Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto


Tomato Basil and Spinach Risotto is fresh and light. Perfect any time of year!

Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto |

I’ve got a bright and healthy main or side dish recipe for you on this blustery Monday evening – Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto! 

Ever since making my first “real” risotto last month (versus oven-baked risotto which, don’t get me wrong, is good, but there’s nothing like the real thing,) I’ve felt the undeniable urge to try my hand at creating new versions. My crowning achievement will be to make one that includes mushrooms for my fungus-loving husband – I’m just not mentally ready to go there yet. It’s the texture, you see. Like licking cloth. Blarg!

Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto |

After purchasing fresh basil for last week’s Crispy Gnochhi with Zucchini, Sweet Corn & Basil (still drooling over here, btw) I decided to use the leftovers in a super-light and summery risotto which combines creamy arborio rice, dry white wine, savory chicken broth, sweet vine-ripened tomatoes, tender baby spinach and, of course, lots of torn, fresh basil. The result is absolute perfection. If you are still waiting to try your hand at risotto, make this recipe yours!

Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto |

Start the Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto by sauteing 1 minced shallot in a large skillet with 1 Tablespoon butter over medium heat. Season with salt & pepper then cook until translucent, and then add 1 minced garlic clove and saute for 30 more seconds.


Next add 3/4 cup arborio rice. You can find this in the rice aisle, or in the bulk bins!


Stir until the rice is coated in butter then add 1/4 cup dry white wine and stir until it’s nearly all absorbed. I used an inexpensive pinot grigio. As I mentioned last time, the alcohol from the wine will cook out, but it’s yummy, elegant flavor will remain in the final dish. SO GOOD.


Now turn your attention to 2-1/2 cups chicken broth that’s keeping warm on a back burner.


Add a ladle-full of chicken broth to the rice, about 1/2 cup, then stir the rice continuously until it’s nearly all absorbed. Then keep adding and stirring, and adding and stirring.


Best to put on a good tv show, some rockin’ tunes, or True Blood on the iPad, which I’ve now moved onto after watching, cough, the second season of Girls, cough. It doesn’t take forever, just 20 minutes or so.


K – time to add the mix-ins! Previously I’d seeded and chopped 2 vine-ripened tomatoes. Organic taste best, especially at this time of year. Equivalent amounts of Romas or Compari tomatoes would work great, too.


When there’s 1/4 of the broth left, add the tomatoes then keep stirring. When there’s one ladle-full left, add 2 cups baby spinach and a big handful of torn basil then stir, stir, stir.

By the way, I feel like risotto-making would be a great topic for a children’s book about patience. Finn quietly sings a song about patience to himself whenever he needs a little reminder, like yesterday when he was done with lunch but couldn’t be excused until everyone at the table was done too. Most. Adorable. Thing. EVER.


Anyways! After the last of the broth is absorbed, add 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese then stir it in. Taste then season with additional salt & pepper if needed.


This recipe serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side. I served mine with “Salad Dressing Chicken.” That’s just chicken that’s been marinated in salad dressing – I used honey-mustard – for 15 minutes to half an hour, then sauteed or grilled. Super quick and easy, and it also works great with salmon!

Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto |

Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side


Tomato Basil and Spinach Risotto is fresh and light. Perfect any time of year!


  • 2-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 3/4 cup certified gluten-free arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded & chopped (or equivalent amount of Roma or Compari tomatoes)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • handful torn basil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep hot.
  2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat then add shallot, season with salt & pepper, and then saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic then saute for 30 more seconds.
  3. Add rice then stir to coat in butter. Add wine then stir until nearly absorbed by rice. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth then stir continuously until broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until nearly absorbed before adding more.
  4. When there's 1/4 of the broth remaining, add tomatoes then continue stirring. Add baby spinach and basil with the last broth addition then continue stirring. Stir in parmesan cheese then add more salt & pepper to taste.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto |

This recipe is really great for getting others – especially those who are intimidated by cooking – into the kitchen to help. It’s really just stirring! Enjoy!

Tomato-Basil & Spinach Risotto |

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  1. This looks SO tasty. I would love to make a vegetarian version and serve it as a main dish. I am definitely intimidated by the idea of cooking risotto, but your recipe makes it sound manageable. Thanks for sharing :).

    • Sheryl Chamberlain Hart 02.21.2013

      Was thinking the same thing myself, using veggie stock. Always looking for good recipes to serve when my vegetarian friend comes to dinner.

    • Natalie 04.08.2015

      I’ve made this a few times (with chicken and veggie broth) and the directions are so on the dot, I want to say it’s almost fool proof. As long as you are near by the whole time to stir, you’ll be fine. So good!

  2. Rachel 02.18.2013

    Looks fabulous!!

    This is my favorite risotto to make, or maybe the only one I have ever made :) Not sure if Ben is a pea lover, but the mushrooms are delicious! Happy risotto making!

  3. Katie 02.18.2013

    Ok this has nothing to do with your post today but it has been something that I have been thinking about while reading your blog so I thought that I would just ask. Can you give me the low down on different oils. Which ones are the healthiest, and are you suppose to use certain oils with certain foods? You seem to use vegetable oil while cooking but then I hear all about EVOO too. I’m new to this whole cooking thing and trying to figure it all out. Any info would be much appreciated! Thank you!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.18.2013

      I generally use vegetable or canola oil when I’m cooking something at a high heat because it has a high smoke point, and extra virgin olive oil for everything else, including salad dressings. I’ll occasionally use sesame or peanut oil for stir fries because they have great flavor and a high smoke point, too. Here’s some more info if you’re still curious!

      • Katie 02.19.2013

        Thank you for the info!

  4. John 02.18.2013

    Did you forget about your lightened spring risotto? It wasn’t oven baked and it had shrooms!

  5. Your risotto looks amazing! I love the tomato-basil pairing (and there’s nothing better than fresh basil). I’m so glad that more grocery stores are carrying arborio rice–making risotto recipes is much easier. :) Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Kath 02.18.2013

    Beautiful risotto, and a great tutorial. Thanks!

  7. this looks absolutely delicious!
    there’s something oh so comforting about risotto, and so many different ways you can make it :)

    what camera do you use? all your food photos are divine!!

  8. Lauren 02.18.2013

    I could’ve used the patience song today ;)

  9. Annie 02.18.2013

    Tomato and basil are probably one of my top favorite food combos! This risotto looks delicious and I love the step by step photos!

  10. Looks very fancy and delicious! I’ve actually been wanting to try making risotta for a while….I need to just give it a try.

  11. Kristen 02.18.2013

    A definite must try–I’ll use “no-chicken” broth and make it a main course. We have the rice already!

  12. Elizabeth 02.18.2013

    My fiance and I loved your last risotto! It was so creamy and warming, perfect for a cold winter night. I cant wait to try this variation. I am disappointed to hear you don’t like mushrooms, I’ll have to try that combo on my own. Thanks for the blog, I enjoy reading and making your creations

  13. In addition to having the cutest nephew (and niece, by the way – omg she KILLED me with her little pink coat and pony from yesterday’s post) you just may very well have the best behaved one.

    Kudos to your bro and sister-in-law :)

  14. I love making risotto! It is a tender, loving process, but sooooo worth it in the end. I love tomato basil anything.

  15. @stefanie….i totally agree, but i almost never get that loving feeling more than once or twice a year! i think if my husband agreed to take turns on the stirring, i may be able to muster it up more often. :)

  16. I love ordering risotto when we are out! It is one of the dishes I’m most intimidated by, I tried to make it once and it was a total flop. This really makes me want to attempt to make it again!

  17. Im always in need of sides! This looks fabulous! Thank youu!

  18. Looks delicious! I love risotto, too, and I love to try out new versions.

  19. How did you know tomatoes and spinach are my favorite vegetable combo? Must make now!

  20. jennyv 02.19.2013

    I love risotto and have never really thought to make my own (laziness, perhaps?) but this looks so worth it !

  21. Michelle 02.19.2013

    Thank you for this one! I made it for dinner tonight, and it was fantastic- so fresh and bright! It was my first time making risotto and it was a snap.

  22. Jess 02.19.2013

    Great flavor combination for risotto. I absolutely love tomato and basil, but its nice to see it elsewhere than a salad or sandwich. Will definitely try this!

  23. […] (can never overdo the garlic in this house) and also the baby spinach from the original recipe.  Here’s the link to the original recipe.  The website says it will serve four as a side dish or two for a main […]

  24. Suzanne 02.21.2013

    Made this yesterday. Loved it and will surely make it again. Thnx!

  25. Chris W 02.21.2013

    I made this last night and it was wonderful. I had just been shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joes so I had everything except the basil and it was just fine without it. Don’t you just love those stores!!

  26. Renae 02.21.2013

    Made this tonite! Soooo good!! Sharing the recipe with my friends!

  27. Nicole 02.25.2013

    Looks amazing! I’m going to have to try it.

  28. Danielle 02.26.2013

    Kristin, this recipe was AMAZING. I had to stop myself from getting a third helping of the risotto. It was fantastic! My first time making risotto, too…I’ve been intimidated in the past but I followed your directions and it was a cinch! The basil really made the dish. Thanks again :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.27.2013

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Danielle! (and can totally relate to trying to stop yourself from eating it all!) ;)

  29. Sarah 03.04.2013

    Just made this recipe yesterday…my family literally were trying to lick the pot!!!! I am allergic to dairy so we just used dairy free butter and omitted the cheese. We also doubled the batch, next time we will probably have to triple it!!! Awesome recipe!!!

  30. carey 03.05.2013

    Any thoughts on the nutrition facts for this?

  31. Corrinna Kinnard 03.07.2013

    This is fantastic!!

  32. Mary 03.12.2013

    Loved this risotto!! Made a smaller batch then I expected but still very tasty! Also my rice came out a little under done! Guess I needed to add the broth slower or let it cook longer between each addition! Thanks for a yummy recipe!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.12.2013

      Hey Mary! If your rice is still not done next time, just keep stirring in more broth until it’s chewy and creamy!

  33. Colleen 03.16.2013

    My family just finished eating this fabulous dish. We doubled the recipe. Got most ingredients at Trader Joe’s because it was on the way home (used TJ Blue Fin viognier white wine) and canned organic tomato. Used white onions we had on hand. EXCELLENT flavor! Family requested we definitely make again. Next time we make it though, I will 4x the recipe in two skillets because it probably won’t work as well in a stock pot, do you agree? Thanks for sharing!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.17.2013

      Hey Colleen! I’ve never tried it, but I think a larger stock pot or Dutch Oven would work just fine to cook a risotto! Let me know how it turns out for you!

  34. Rachel Allison 03.22.2013

    GREAT RECIPE! Loved it(: So yummy. Thanks so much for sharing.

  35. Sarah 04.15.2013

    Made this for dinner tonight. It was awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  36. Annie 05.07.2013

    This looks great! How do you think it would be with quinoa instead of the risotto? And do you think you could cook it the same way?? Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.07.2013

      I’m not sure, I’ve never tried to cook quinoa like risotto. If you try and like it definitely report back!

  37. […] Seared Scallops with Spinach Tomato Basil Risotto, serves two to three (complements of Seafood Watch & Iowa Girl Eats) […]

  38. Chris 05.09.2013

    I have tried risotto several times and this is my greatest success. Creamy without being too rich. Beautiful dish. I did not have fresh basil but it seemed fine without it.

  39. Amanda W. 05.21.2013

    Wow! I made this for dinner tonight with BBQ pork chops and it was incredible!!! This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  40. Brittany 05.23.2013

    I made this last week and it was amazing! I put a link to the recipe in my blog and I’ll be making it again tonight! I never realized I could make risotto at home!

    – Brittany

  41. Amanda 05.25.2013

    Making this tonight! About how long, start to finish, no including prep would you say it takes to make?

  42. Julie 05.31.2013

    Have you ever tried adding an egg at the end? scramble it really well and add it when you add the cheese and stir really well so the egg doesn’t clump up. It makes it extra creamy!

  43. […] Link to Spinach and Basil Risotto: […]

  44. Randi 07.02.2013

    I came across this on Pinterest and I am so glad I did! I made this lastnight as a side dish and it turned out amazing! Thank you for sharing :)

  45. […] won’t be able to write out this recipe as well as the original author, so I won’t try. But I made this for dinner and it was […]

  46. […] For more details please visit this link were you will find instructions : […]

  47. […] Recipe courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats. […]

  48. Heather 07.24.2013

    This is really tasty! Made a vegan version of this recipe and it was absolutely delicious! Thank you!

  49. maria mercedes berruezo 08.15.2013

    leyendo la receta la veo exquisita,pienso hacerla proximamente,cuando sea epoca de albahaca.

  50. […] used my standard risotto recipe, then packed it full ofarmers’ market goodies like tomatoes, sweet corn, zucchini, and basil. […]

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