Risotto with Pesto

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Hazan Family Favorites

Hazan Family Favorites

By Giuliano Hazan

Published 2012

  • About

Our girls adore basil pesto. We once rented an apartment in Liguria in order to explore the foods of the region, and the girls happily ordered pasta with pesto at almost every single meal. When I am lucky enough to have a nice bunch of basil in our vegetable garden, I make a large batch of pesto and freeze it in individual portions. One day, rather than having it with pasta, I decided to stir it into a basic risotto, and we were delighted with the results. The natural creaminess of risotto carries the aromatic flavor of pesto perfectly. I’ve held back the cheese in this version to keep it lighter and fresher.


  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • ¾ cup fresh basil leaves (you’ll need a bunch of basil weighing about 1 ounce)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • teaspoons salt
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • cups rice for risotto (Carnaroli, Violone Nano, or Arborio)


  1. Peel the garlic and cut it in half. Put one half in a food processor along with the basil leaves, pine nuts, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Run the processor until a fine, creamy mixture forms. Set the pesto aside.
  2. Put about 6 cups water and the remaining teaspoon of salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  3. Peel and very finely chop the yellow onion. Put it with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 5- to 6-quart braising pan over medium-high heat. Sauté until the onion turns a rich golden color, about 5 minutes.
  4. While the onion is sautéing, finely chop the remaining half clove of garlic. When the onion is ready, add the garlic, sauté for another minute, then add the rice. Stir until it is well coated, then add about 1 cup of the hot water from the saucepan and continue stirring. Add only enough liquid to produce the consistency of a rather thick soup and wait until all the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is al dente, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the pesto, and serve at once.