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Risotto is a delicious creamy rice dish from Italy that can be cooked in a number of different ways. However, if you are unfamiliar with risotto or just overwhelmed with options then you may be wondering what to serve with risotto. If so we’ve got you covered. 

What Is Risotto?

As mentioned above risotto is a rice dish that originates from Italy and is known for being particularly creamy. Creamy risotto is a truly delicious meal that comes about from cooking the arborio rice in a broth that is typically derived from meat, fish or vegetables until it reaches the appropriate consistency. 

Common ingredients in risotto dish recipes will also include parmesan cheese, onions, butter and wine. Additionally, though, the risotto will also often have other ingredients added to it such as mushrooms, chicken, bacon or just about any ingredient whether it be meat, vegetables or anything inbetween.

What Goes With Risotto?

Risotto is an incredibly versatile dish that can be as simple or complicated as you wish it to be. As such it can often be a complete meal by itself or the foundation upon which other ingredients are added.

The beauty of risotto though is that whilst it is deliciously creamy and comforting, it is also a relatively blank slate. As such, this delicious rice dish can be served with a wide variety of other foods.

What to Serve with Risotto? 13 Delicious Side Ideas

What Should You Serve With Risotto?

With the above in mind, it becomes clear why someone may not know what to serve with risotto. This is because instead of having a limited number of options the opposite is in fact true, meaning the number of choices can be overwhelming. If spoiled for choice and unsure what to do though, the options below are a wonderful starting point.

  1. Roasted Shrimp
  2. Seared Scallops
  3. Crispy Chicken Thighs
  4. Braised Lemon Chicken
  5. Baked Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs
  6. Eggs
  7. Sausages
  8. Pesto
  9. Arugula Salad
  10. Caprese Salad
  11. Baked Asparagus
  12. Sautéed Mushrooms
  13. Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Shrimp

A simple but wonderful option when serving risotto is to top it with delicious roasted or even pan-fried shrimp. The number of shrimp needed can vary depending on the size of your shrimp portions and the serving size you intend. However, for something simple yet slightly fancy, this is an excellent choice.

To really elevate your risotto dish to the next level though, you should add some seasonings to them. Some great options include garlic, Italian herb mix, kosher salt and some cayenne if fancy a bit of a kick. Additionally, they can be also be grilled if you want to add some smokey flavours, or sauteed in butter for added creamy buttery goodness.

What to Serve with Risotto? 13 Delicious Side Ideas

Seared Scallops

Another wonderful seafood option to consider serving with risotto is seared scallops. Scallops are deliciously sweet, buttery and tender with a lightly seared edge that makes them a wonderful inclusion to near enough any dish. Especially so considering how quickly they cook.

Whilst seared scallops are wonderful though, there is another option. Raw scallops are less buttery but often have a more wonderful taste of the sea and a deliciously delicate texture.

Crispy Chicken Thighs

Changing up from seafood to poultry now, chicken is a wonderfully versatile meat that is enjoyed the world over in a number of ways. With risotto though, one of the most delicious options for serving chicken is crispy chicken thighs.

These can be down with deep frying and roasting. Either way, though the goal is to give your skin a deliciously crispy skin with a wonderfully juicy centre. 

The beauty of doing so of course is that when prepared this way the chicken provides a wonderful contrast in terms of taste and texture when compared to the al dente rice of your risotto. Chicken thighs in particular are great for this due to being inherently more juicy and flavourful.

What to Serve with Risotto? 13 Delicious Side Ideas

Braised Lemon Chicken

With chicken being as versatile as it is, there is little surprise that multiple chicken dishes will pair wonderfully with risotto. Like a lot of Italian dishes though, a lemon zest also pairs excellently with risotto.

Naturally then braised lemon chicken will go wonderfully with risotto. Here, the citrus flavours of fresh lemon juice combine with tender braised chicken in an incredibly tasty way.

From a cooking perspective though, this also provides another advantage. A dish like risotto requires a lot of attention. As such, a low maintenance dish like braised lemon chicken can be allowed to simmer in some white wine. This then allows you to channel most of your effort into perfecting the risotto. 

Baked Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs

Sticking with the chicken theme, another excellent option is to serve some baked chicken and ricotta meatballs with your favourite risotto. These poultry and cheese meatballs and delicious and make for an incredibly filling meal that isn’t too heavy.

To make these simply mix ground chicken, an egg, ricotta cheese, breadcrumbs and some seasonings of choice and roll into small balls. Following which they can be baked.

Similarly to the crispy chicken thighs when baked the result is a wonderfully crispy exterior which contrasts wonderfully with risotto. However, here the centre delivers the delicately delicious taste of creamy ricotta cheese. 

Eggs

Whether it’s fried, boiled or a perfectly poached egg there are few things more wonderful for serving with a light risotto than a runny egg. Here the goal is to ensure that when cut into the yolk of your egg will run and mix in with risotto, making it even creamier.

This is something of a lighter option for a risotto accompaniment. That said though, when in the mood for a light bite that is deliciously creamy then this will be a flawless choice. 

What to Serve with Risotto? 13 Delicious Side Ideas

Sausages

The contrast in taste, textures and general feel of risotto and sausages is a unique and wonderful combination. The plump, meaty, smokey and maybe slightly crispy nature of a sausage perfectly offsets the creamy and delicate nature of the risotto.

To be really authentic an Italian sausage is an ideal choice. However, any type of sausage you fancy will also work brilliantly, whether store-bought or homemade. Additionally, whilst an intact sausage works great, you may also wish to slice it up and either sprinkle the pieces on top or mix them into the risotto itself.

Pesto

For another option when sticking to an Italian theme, pesto is an excellent choice. Pesto is essentially a type of sauce that is typically made of basil, cheese, crushed garlic, olive oil and pine nuts. However, there are many different varieties.

Often it will be served with bread or eaten with pasta, however, it can also mix wonderfully with risotto.

One particularly good option is to serve a pesto made with spinach, feta cheese and almonds on some bread alongside risotto (this is especially good with something like butternut squash risotto). In particular, using Italian bread such a ciabatta or focaccia also really helps drive home the Italian theme.

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Arugula Salad

If wanting to add some light green salad to your risotto meal then arugula (or rocket) salad is an excellent way of doing so. 

To make this salad, simply combine arugula, olive oil and fresh lemon juice for a zesty and light green salad. However, to make things even more interesting you can also add in some shallots, along with parmesan cheese and some nuts of your choice such as pistachios or pecans.  

Caprese Salad

Another salad option is to serve a classic Caprese salad alongside your risotto dish. The Caprese consists of sweet tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil which have been drizzled in balsamic vinegar.

The result is a wonderfully vibrant and colourful salad that is incredibly flavourful in a variety of ways. With aspects that are fresh, earthy and sweet, this salad manages to be very varied whilst not overwhelming your taste buds or indeed the flavours of your risotto.

What to Serve with Risotto? 13 Delicious Side Ideas

Baked Asparagus

For a wonderfully green and fibrous side dish option, baked asparagus is an excellent choice to accompany your risotto. This should be baked until tender and given a nice drizzle of fresh lemon juice to add some extra zest to things.

You can also add some parmesan cheese for the last few minutes of baking to make this a deliciously cheesy treat. This can be taken even further as well if you choose to wrap them in prosciutto beforehand. Additionally, you can combine this with one of the prior options by adding poached eggs to create something truly special.  

Sautéed Mushrooms

Sautéed mushrooms are a personal favourite side of mine because not only are they delicious but they are also incredibly versatile. The combination of the earthy umami and creamy buttery flavours make these incredibly delicious, especially when seasoned with a little bit of garlic and thyme.

When given a touch of balsamic vinegar to top them they have an even more wonderful flavour with its sweet but vinegary taste. The result is a side that perfectly complements your risotto dish of choice.

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are probably the most versatile side dish that you can make as they will likely go with near enough any dish that you plan on serving. Really no matter how what choice you go with you will likely end up with something excellent.

One option for example is to use red pepper, sweet potatoes, red onions and red peppers with a sprinkle of olive oil along with salt and vinegar. 

Meanwhile for a more green vegetable option some green beans, broccoli, asparagus and fennel is an excellent choice. Especially if you add mushrooms, onions and a balsamic dressing.

What to Serve with Risotto? 13 Delicious Side Ideas

So What Should You Serve with Risotto?

When deciding what to serve with risotto, you truly have a wide array of options available to you. As such, whether you want some light or heavy that meaty, fishy, more veg focused or something in between you will always be able to find something that goes with your risotto.

With that in mind then, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start experimenting to find the best side to go with your favourite type of risotto.

FAQ – What Goes With Risotto?

What main dish goes with risotto?

A wide variety of dishes go well with risotto. Some examples of which include seared scallops, chicken and ricotta meatballs and Caprese salad.

Is risotto a main or side dish?

Risotto is an incredibly versatile dish. As such it will work exceptionally well as either a main or side dish depending on the portion size.

Why is risotto the death dish?

Risotto is often known as the death dish on Masterchef due to it being the dish that often trips up various contestants. The reason that is is the case though may be that the spectrum of what people consider a good risotto can vary greatly depending on the individual eating it along with there being a lot of things that can go wrong during the process.

What can I serve with mushroom risotto?

Mushroom risotto is incredibly versatile and can be served alongside a wide variety of other dishes. However, some of the best options include roasted shrimp, crispy chicken thighs or a light arugula salad.