Risotto is one of those dishes that takes a little time and effort to prepare, but the end result is always worth it. Get it right, and your guests will think you are the hero of the day. There’s something great about having to tend to a dish and lovingly add ladle after ladle of stock until it is absolutely perfect. The only downside to risotto is that the first bite tastes the same as the last. For that reason, you might want to jazz it up with an accompaniment. But what to serve with risotto? Well, fear not. We are about to tell you. Check out our suggestions.
17 Risotto Side Dishes
1. Seared Scallops
There are a few things that make scallops the ideal dish to serve alongside risotto. First, as we’ve said, risotto is a little labor-intensive. The last thing you want to be doing is messing around with yet another dish that is super complicated. Scallops are an absolute breeze to cook if you do it right. The trick is to cook them quickly in an extremely hot pan, so they lightly char on either side. The second thing that makes scallops ideal is that they are really light. Risotto is a pretty filling dish, so you aren’t going to want to go overboard on something too heavy. A pan, a couple of scallops, and perhaps a quick squeeze of lemon juice is all you need. It doesn’t get any simpler than this.
2. Gambas Pil Pil
Let’s stay on a seafood theme, shall we? Just like scallops, shrimp (or ‘gambas’ if you speak Spanish) are really light and quick to prepare. Gambas pil pil is a really simple dish whose flavors complement risotto so well. The main ingredients are chili, garlic, oil, and some finely chopped parsley. That’s pretty much it. We like to take an extra step to make our dish look amazing. We take a sharp knife and butterfly the shrimp before flash-frying in a red hot pan. We serve them in miniature cast iron pots just like they do in European marinas!
3. Garlic Bread
If you’ve made your risotto the right way, you should have a pretty saucy dish. The gluten released from the rice leaches out into the dish with constant stirring to make this rice dish really creamy. Now, you have two options. You can spend half the night scratching around your plate with a spoon, or you can mop up all those lovely flavors wholesale with a warm and crispy chunk of tasty bread. What’s it to be?
Yup, we thought so. The good news is that garlic bread is really simple to prepare. If we are really trying to reduce the workload, we use a shop-bought baguette. We make equal slices along the back and stuff each crevice with a mixture of butter, crushed garlic, and parsley before giving it a quick flash in the oven for 5 minutes.
4. Lemon Chicken
We love risotto. Depending on what you’ve made, it can start to taste a little bit rich. We are going to need something to cut right through that richness. If this is the case, your first thought should be something citrusy, and we can think of nothing better than a nice slice of lemony chicken breast.
It might sound fancy, but honestly, it is super easy. We wrap a chicken breast, a large knob of butter, and half a lemon in a tin foil parcel. Seal it up tight and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. The lemon breaks down and releases its zesty juice, which then steams and infuses the chicken! Be sure not to waste a drop of that sauce. Serve it alongside or mix it into your risotto for a flavor explosion.
5. Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs
Risotto is Italian, so let us keep with the theme and make something that is super European. Ground chicken can be hard to get hold of, so just whack a chicken breast into a mincer or blender.
We mix the chicken with spoonfuls of creamy ricotta, along with a handful of breadcrumbs, a little parmesan cheese, and plenty of seasoning. From there, it is just a case of rolling into balls and baking in the oven for 40 minutes. The ricotta really helps prevent these from being dry. We love to serve these with risotto (and a large helping of our final suggestion).
Related: Meatball Sides
6. Beef Bourgeon
If we had to pick one word to describe risotto, we’d be inclined to say ‘hearty’. It is a really filling dish that is absolutely perfect if you are looking for a winter warmer. If you are feeding a crowd, then you might want to pad it out a bit. Staying on the hearty theme. Beef bourgeon is the perfect accompaniment.
Just like risotto, it is rich, filling, and really saucy. It’s also pretty low maintenance, giving you plenty of time to work on adding stock… and stirring and adding more stock.
Related: What to serve with beef wellington
7. Roasted Cheesy Broccolli
Listen, risotto is all good and well, but some might consider it to be a little bit… ‘Meh’ from a look’s point of view. Well, here is the answer. Broccoli adds both color and texture to your dish. It is also pretty light meaning you won’t fill up.
We don’t want boring old broccoli. Instead, we make it extra special by adding a few handfuls of shredded cheese along with a few extra herbs and spices. The result is colorful, crunchy, and a little opulent.
8. Crusty Home Baked Bread
Making your own bread at home is a real achievement in its own right. Just like risotto, it requires time, patience, and a little dedication. There are few things more delicious than working your way around a plate or bowl with a huge chunk of buttered bread. You get bonus points if it is still warm out of the oven.
When we bake, we tend to make a few loaves. Once they are baked, they freeze beautifully, and you can use them for things other than sides for risotto. Soups and sandwiches for days.
9. Honey Roasted Glazed Chicken Thighs
As a general rule, risotto is quite savory. While it is delicious, you might want to offset it with a contrasting texture or flavor. This is the recipe right here. Chicken thighs are higher in fat and, as a result, are full of juicy goodness. This recipe takes very little effort.
Pat, your chicken, thigs dry, slash the skin, brush with oil, and roast for 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and give them a coating of drizzly honey before returning them to the oven for another 20 minutes.
What you should be left with is crispy and juicy chicken with a slightly sticky and sweet coating. Food of the gods!
10. Link Sausages
Looking for simplicity and want a bit of meat in your dish. Sausages are the answer! We like to use link sausages bought from the butcher, but store-bought can be just as good. How you cook them is up to you. We like to sear ours in an oven-proof frying pan and then whack them in a hot oven to finish off and cook through.
A slice of sausage makes the ideal broom to work your way around a plate too!
11. Oozy Poached Eggs
With any good dinner, sometimes it’s the little things that make a dish special. Here’s a quick trick that they use in restaurants to make any dish a little fancier. Top it with a poached egg! There’s something special about slicing right through the middle and watching that runny yolk spill out. If you want a perfect poached egg, here are a few secret tips. First, use the freshest eggs you can get hold of. Second, don’t use boiling water. The bubbles will break the egg up before it has time to cook. Our final tip is to add a splash of white wine vinegar to your cooking water. This helps to set the egg quickly.
12. Arugula Salad
If you are a linguist, you might know arugula by another name… Rocket! These crunchy and slightly bitter leaves are light and easy to prepare. We go the whole hog when we are cooking Italian and add a few slivers of hard cheese, along with a liberal splash of olive oil and not much else.
Rocket is really peppery, which seems to work really well with the other elements of a risotto.
13. Steamed Broccoli
Nice and simple? Give this one a go. Steamed broccoli takes minutes literally to make. It’s full of goodness and provides a welcome change in texture too. No, don’t just boil it. Give your broccoli some love.
After it is drained, we like to add a good knob of butter along with some seasoning. We then finish it off with a squeeze of lemon and a few toasted flaked almonds. It is really simple but tastes fantastic.
14. Tray Baked Vegetables
The trick to tray baked vegetables is to cut all of your veg into equal-sized chunks. That way, they all cook at roughly the same time, and you don’t end up with anything being shriveled or burned. Here is the number one rule of any good traybake. Use plenty of oil and seasoning. Nobody wants dried and chewy vegetables.
Our ‘dream combo’ for a decent traybake is a mix of cubed potato, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and a few segments of sliced pepper. If you want to make it really Mediterranean, add a handful of crumbled feta before serving.
15. Beef and Radish Salad
Listen up, meat-eaters. We’ve got you!
If you just have to have a little steak on the side, then this is ideal. It isn’t quite as filling as a whole ribeye, but it should scratch that carnivorous itch. As with our arugula salad, this one also contains rocket. The peppery element is further enhanced with the inclusion of crunchy and earthy sliced radishes.
Our preference is to pan-fry a smallish tenderloin until it is just slightly above rare. We allow it to cool before slicing it as thin as we can. Combine this with the rocket, radishes and give it a sprinkle with high-quality olive oil before serving alongside your risotto.
16. Baked Garlic Mushrooms
When cooking risotto, we are a massive fan of making sides that are ‘bake and leave’. It cuts down on our workload so much! This recipe couldn’t be simpler. Take a big portobello mushroom, remove the stalk and give it a quick wash. Fill with garlic butter, breadcrumbs, and a small cube of blue cheese.
From there? Whack it in a hot oven for about 20 minutes until it begins to bubble, and the breadcrumbs turn crispy. Dish it up alongside (or even on top of) your risotto. If you have mushroom risotto, it might be worth considering an alternative to avoid mushroom overload.
17. Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Quick, easy, and eye-catching. That’s what we love about this particular salad. Slice a beef tomato and mozzarella into rounds. Layer them up in alternating lines. A dash of olive oil, a sprinkling of pepper, and a few dots of bright green pesto are all it takes. See, we told you it was simple!
18. A Glass of Chilled White Wine?
Phew, and we are nearly done cooking. Are we allowed to say that this is our favorite side for risotto? A nice crisp Chablis is perfect for cutting through the saucy rice. Ok, you are allowed to have one while you are making your risotto too! It’s hard work in this kitchen!
Knowing what to serve with risotto is easy. Especially now you have read our 17 great suggestions. Pick something light, easy to prepare, and offer a slightly different taste and texture, and you should be good to go. Any more ideas? Why not let us know in the comments, and we’ll see about adding it.