Recipes, Savory Dishes

Pesto Risotto


This gluten-free Pesto Risotto is the perfect dish to serve up this summer!

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Risotto: It’s Easier Than You Think!

Risotto seems to have a bad reputation of being difficult or complicated to make. If you have this idea in your head, you’re not alone. Before trying my hand at it, I had the same idea in mind. But let me ease your worries because it’s so much easier to make than you think! Risotto comes down to time and patience. Like all pastas, it’s not something that you can rush (unless you want chewy risotto, which no one wants). As long as you’re aware of the time it takes to make good risotto and you are patient through the process, YOU can make delicious risotto that will awe and impress your family.

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Did somebody say Basil Pesto Risotto??? 

The Pesto 

This may be a personal opinion, but I think that pesto risotto is so much better when it’s made with homemade pesto! There’s nothing wrong with store-bought pesto, but my kale pesto recipe is so easy to make and yields a much larger serving that the store-bought brands. My recipe uses just kale, basil, olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and a dash of salt & pepper. In just three easy steps, you can have homemade pesto!

  1. Combine the ingredients: Start by removing all the stems from the tuscan kale. The stems are very tough and bitter, so just a quick chop and we can get rid of them. Next, add the kale to the food processor. While you can use a blender, I find it’s so much easier in a food processor. Then, wash your basil and add it to the food processor. Finally, we’re going to throw the rest of the ingredients into the food processor and get started blending!

  2. Blend: Pulse on high for 1-2 minutes until all of the ingredients are combined and you have a smooth pesto. Make sure you taste test before finishing it. Depending on your taste, it may need another splash of lemon juice or dash of pepper.

  3. That’s it: And just like that, your pesto is done! Save one cup of your kale pesto for the basil pesto risotto, then store the rest of the pesto in an air tight container. The pesto will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator and goes great on fish, chicken, or in salads!

If you want to see a step-by-step video, scroll down to the recipe card or click HERE!


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Making the Risotto

Start by adding olive oil to a Dutch oven or a large pot. Heat the olive oil over medium, then add one minced shallot. It’s important to use a shallot instead of an onion here because shallots have more of a delicate flavor. Onions have the tendency to overpower a dish and we want to keep this pesto risotto recipe very light. After about five minutes, the minced shallot should be translucent and aromatic. Next, we’re going to add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 3 cloves of minced garlic. Stir this until the butter and garlic are aromatic. Then, add the arborio rice! Stir this for 2 minutes to thoroughly coat and toast the rice evenly. Once that’s done, add 1/4 cup of your favorite dry white wine. Then, pour yourself a glass- you’re making risotto and doing a great job!

Stir the white wine until it’s been absorbed by the rice. Then, heat 1 cup of bone broth or vegetable stock for one minute in the microwave. Next, pour the warm vegetable broth into the arborio rice and stir for 7-10 minutes over medium-high heat until the liquid has been absorbed. You’re going to repeat this process for the next 3 1/2 cups of vegetable stock or broth. This is where patience comes in handy. You CANNOT rush the rice or you will end up with undercooked risotto. Just give it a little bit more time than you think it needs and you will have perfect risotto. 

Once you’ve poured in all of the liquid and it has been absorbed by the rice, add the pesto and parmesan cheese. Remove the risotto from heat and stir until you have a cheesy, green pasta dish! Next, just add toasted pine nuts, fresh basil and blistered cherry tomatoes. You can find my recipe for blistered cherry tomatoes below in the recipe card! And to toast the pine nuts, just add about 3/4 cup to a nonstick medium saucepan. Toast over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until they’re golden brown. Then, add to your risotto and enjoy! 

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Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

What are blistered cherry tomatoes? The cooking process of blistering cherry tomatoes involves cooking the tomatoes on a hot pan on high pressure or heat until the skin of the tomatoes has darkened and they are about to pop. I love add cherry tomatoes to this dish because they go great with pesto sauce and add a nice POP of color to the pesto risotto! 

Start by washing your tomatoes, then add them to a hot pan or cast iron skillet with olive oil. Cast iron skillet work great for blistering but a hot pan will also do the trick. Next, you’re going to cook the tomatoes over medium-high heat for about five minutes. Next, add salt, pepper, and oregano to season the tomatoes. Then, add a splash of balsamic vinegar. The vinegar really brings out the delicious acidity of the tomatoes here. After about 5 more minutes, the tomatoes should have a burnt look to them. Remove from heat, then add to your risotto and enjoy!

Pesto Risotto

Recipe by Arianna Negri Course: Recipes, PastaDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



This gluten-free pasta recipe with homemade pesto, blistered cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and fresh basil is one for the books!


  • For the Kale Pesto
  • 4 1/2 cups tuscan kale

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil

  • 1 cup pine nuts

  • 1 1/4 cups parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • For the Risotto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

  • 4 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, warm

  • 1 cup of the kale pesto

  • 1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese

  • Toasted pine nuts for garnish

  • Fresh basil for garnish

  • Blistered Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  • For the Kale Pesto
  • Add all of the ingredients to a food processor
  • Pulse on high for 1-2 minutes, until smooth
  • Set 1 cup of the pesto to the side, and put the rest of the pesto in an air tight in the refrigerator
  • For the Risotto
  • Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven or large pot
  • Heat on medium and add 1 minced shallot
  • Once translucent, about 5 minutes, add the butter and minced garlic cloves
  • After the butter has melted and the garlic is aromatic, add the arborio rice
  • Stir to coat all of the rice evenly, about 2 minutes
  • Next, add the dry white wine and stir until the wine is absorbed
  • Then, add 1 cup of warm vegetable broth
  • Stir for 7-10 minutes on medium-low heat until the vegetable broth has been absorbed by the rice
  • Repeat steps 7-8 for the next 3 1/2 cups of vegetive broth
  • Once the rice is fluffy and all the liquid has been absorbed, add 1 cup of the kale pesto and the parmesan cheese
  • Remove the risotto from the heat and stir to combine the pesto and cheese
  • Finally, top with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil
  • For the Blistered Tomatoes
  • Add the olive oil to a pan and heat over medium until the pan is warm
  • Next, add the cherry tomatoes and increase the heat to medium-high
  • After about 2-3 minutes, add the seasonings
  • Stir to coat the tomatoes in the pepper, salt, and oregano
  • Then, add the balsamic vinegar and reduce the heat to medium
  • Cook until the tomatoes begin to “pop”, then remove from heat
  • Serve over the risotto and enjoy!


  • You can also opt to use an immersion blender instead of a food processor or blender

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