Imagine a bowlful of creamy risotto, with little pockets of melty mozzarella cheese, sweet and juicy roasted tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts, all drizzled with ultra garlicky fresh pesto... Well, that's what you get with this caprese risotto.
It. Is. Irresistible.
This easy homemade risotto utilises the same classic flavour combination (hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it), but also with creamy, garlicky risotto rice.
Unlike in a cold caprese salad, this risotto includes mozzarella that is melty and gooey; roasted tomatoes which form little pockets of juicy goodness; and fresh basil reimagined as a garlicky pesto drizzle.
It's Italy in a bowl. And it's incredible.
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese are a classic flavour combination for a reason - they go utterly perfectly together!
- This recipe is easy to make, but tastes spectacular.
- It's good eaten from a bowl, curled up on the sofa with a blanket, or served for guests at a fancy dinner party - or anything in between!
- Risotto reheats nicely, so you can prepare it in advance and just warm it up when needed.
Here's what you'll need to make this recipe:
- arborio rice is the most commonly used rice for risotto, but other short-grained varieties can also work - see here for a list.
- cherry tomatoes. It's worth paying a little more for good quality tomatoes, as it really makes a difference!
- mozzarella cheese. The fresh stuff, which comes in a ball, is best, but you can use grated mozzarella if you need to.
- basil pesto. It's 100% worth buying fresh pesto for this risotto, which comes refrigerated, rather than the stuff that comes in a jar. It tastes so much fresher and more vibrant.
- pine nuts - you can use them as they come, but toasting them (as detailed in the recipe) makes them significantly more tasty.
- vegetable stock. I used a stock cube, but liquid or jelly stock is also fine.
- onion (any kind)
See the printable recipe card below for detailed ingredient quantities.
👌 Top tip
If you can't find good quality fresh pesto, homemade pesto would also be incredible in this recipe! Just blitz up fresh basil with garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. You can find instructions for my favourite homemade pesto recipe in this potato salad recipe.
I always use my enormous wok to make risotto. It's not a traditional risotto pan by any means, but I find it works perfectly for the job.
Its wide top and deep sides allow you to make a nice big batch of risotto in one go (because it's always worth making enough for leftovers!), and also means you have space to stir really thoroughly without causing any splashes or spills.
There are all sorts of woks on the market, but I like to use a large (30cm / 12 inch) wok with a non-stick coating, like these ones on Amazon US / Amazon UK, which both have really impressive reviews.
Here's how to make this recipe - see below for the printable recipe with detailed ingredients and instructions.
Step 1: Sauté some finely diced onion and garlic until they're translucent and filling your house with an incredible smell.
Step 2: Add the risotto rice, and mix well.
👌 Top tip
To add more flavour to the rice, allow it to toast in the pan for a couple of minutes before you add any liquid. Make sure you stir regularly to prevent sticking or burning!
Step 3: Begin adding the vegetable stock a splash at a time, allowing the majority of the stock to be absorbed before adding more. You don't need to be too precise about things. Stirring constantly is great, but if you only stir every minute or two, that's fine too.
As you continue adding the stock, the rice will swell, and become soft and creamy.
Step 4: While the rice is cooking, roast some cherry tomatoes until they're juicy and sweet. Leaving them on the vine looks pretty, but isn't a necessity.
Step 5: When the risotto is nearly ready, toast some pine nuts in a dry frying pan. They only take a couple of minutes, and once they begin to brown, they can burn quickly - so keep an eye on them and shake the pan regularly to help them brown evenly.
When the nuts are toasted to your liking, immediately remove them from the pan so they don't burn.
Step 6: Combine the creamy risotto with the roasted tomatoes, roughly torn chunks of mozzarella cheese, fresh pesto, and plenty of black pepper. I like to hold back some of the ingredients to use as toppings.
Step 7: Serve the caprese risotto topped with the toasted pine nuts, and any remaining pesto and roasted tomatoes.
💭 Risotto FAQs
Yes! Risotto is a great meal prep option, as it reheats beautifully in the microwave or in a pan. You can add a little more liquid as you reheat it if you need to, otherwise it sometimes gets a little stodgy.
If you're preparing this caprese risotto in advance, I would cook the 'plain' part of the risotto only, then add the mozzarella, tomatoes etc. after reheating, just before serving. This allows you to retain those little pockets of gooey cheese and juicy tomatoes!
Risotto can be frozen in an air-tight tub for up to 3 months. Reheat thoroughly in the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop. Again, you can add a splash more liquid to loosen it up, if needed.
I'm always in favour of adding extra veg! This recipe uses the traditional ingredients of a caprese salad, but there's no reason you couldn't add some extra ingredients as well. You could easily add mushrooms, courgette (zucchini), peppers, etc. along with the onions.
All of the ingredients in this caprese risotto are naturally gluten-free. However, there is a risk of cross-contamination with some types of risotto rice, so if needed, make sure you choose one that's specifically labelled as gluten-free. You'll also need to ensure you choose a gluten-free vegetable stock.
📖 Printable Recipe
Caprese Risotto (Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil)
If you've cooked this recipe, don't forget to leave a star rating!Print Pin Comment
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 500 g (~ 2 ½ cups) arborio rice
- 1.75 litres (~ 7 cups) vegetable stock (I used a stock cube, but liquid or jelly stock will also work)
- 250 g (~ 9 oz) good quality cherry tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoon pine nuts
- 250 g (~ 9 oz) fresh mozzarella cheese, roughly torn into chunks
- 160 g (~ ⅔ cup) good quality fresh basil pesto
- Heat most of the oil in a large pan or wok, and add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until soft and translucent.
- Add the arborio rice, and mix well to combine. If you like, you can cook it for a minute or two, stirring regularly, to lightly toast the rice.
- Add a good splash of the vegetable stock, and mix well. Bring to a gentle simmer, and stir regularly. Allow the majority of the stock to be absorbed by the rice before adding a little more. You don't need to be too precise - I usually add 1-2 cups at a time.
- While the rice is simmering, roast the tomatoes. Add them to a baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little more oil. Roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 25 minutes, or until they're soft and juicy.
- You also need to toast the pine nuts while the rice is cooking. Add them to a dry frying pan over a medium heat, and cook until they are golden brown. Once they begin to brown, they can burn quickly, so keep an eye on them, and shake the pan regularly to help them cook evenly. When they're browned to your liking, immediately remove them from the pan to stop them from browning further.
- Continue adding the vegetable stock to the risotto until the rice is soft - it usually takes around 30-40 minutes or so. I ended up using about 1.75 litres of liquid (~ 7 cups), but this may vary slightly.
- Add the pieces of mozzarella cheese to the risotto, along with half of the roasted tomatoes, half of the basil pesto, and a generous amount of black pepper. Mix gently to combine, until the mozzarella has melted, forming little pockets of gooey cheese throughout the risotto. Serve topped with the remaining roasted tomatoes and the toasted pine nuts, and drizzled with the remaining pesto.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.