Overhead photo of bowl of tomato basil risotto

Although summer doesn’t “officially” start until later this month, I’ve always considered June 1st to be the kickoff to the best of the four seasons. Bring on bike rides, steamy nights, fresh cut grass, and garden raids to make all my summer favorites, including Tomato-Basil Risotto. This light and fresh take on risotto is a DREAM. Creamy, velvety risotto spiked with juicy tomatoes and herby basil?


Bowl of tomato-basil risotto with basil garnish

We purchased a fresh basil plant at the grocery store last month and I love how simply picking up the planter to water causes the leaves to rustle and release their magical scent. If I could bottle up the scent of this season I’d snag summer mornings, tomato plants (trust me – pluck a few off the vine and give it a big whiff!) and basil. A truly magical trio.

Tips to Make Tomato-Basil Risotto

  1. If you’ve never made risotto before, trust me when I tell you it couldn’t be easier. Really, all you have to do is stir.
  2. As I advise in almost all my rice-based recipes – rice quality DOES matter. Risotto is made with a short grain rice called arborio rice, and I prefer Lundberg Farms or Rice Select brands.
  3. Arborio rice is high in starch and stirring the risotto constantly during the cooking process causes the starch to be slowly released resulting in a creamy final dish. That said, this is a dish you’ll need to stick by the stove for. Pour yourself a glass of vino and enjoy the process.
  4. Since there’s so few ingredients in this dish, I recommend using chicken STOCK vs broth for maximum flavor, and super ripe and juicy tomatoes. That said, if the vine-ripened tomatoes aren’t great in your area yet, select whatever tomato variety is the most ripe.
  5. If you’d like to keep this recipe vegetarian, you may swap vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Eek! I’ll can it so you can get to cooking – can’t wait for you to try this elegant and lovely risotto recipe!!

Spoon digging into hot and creamy risotto

How to Make This Recipe

Start by bringing 3 cups chicken stock to a simmer then lower the heat to keep it hot. You want to use hot broth when making risotto so you don’t bring down the temperature of the dish and a.) make it take even longer to cook, and b.) mess up the texture of the rice in the final dish.

Ok! In a large skillet over medium-heat next door, melt 1 Tablespoon butter then add 1 minced shallot and 2 cloves garlic that have been pressed or minced. Season with salt and pepper then saute until tender, 5 minutes.

Next add 3/4 cup arborio rice then lightly toast for 1 minute while stirring.

Now add 1/4 cup white wine then stir until it has been absorbed by the rice. You can use any white wine you’ve got except sweet wine, like a sweet riesling. I usually use sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. The addition of wine doesn’t make this dish taste “wine-y” – it just adds a hint of sophistication. That said, you can absolutely leave it out, if you prefer!

Once the wine has been absorbed by the rice, add one ladleful of hot broth to the skillet at a time, slowly stirring until it’s nearly completely absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladleful. The whole process will take 30-35 minutes.

When there’s two ladlefuls of hot broth left, add 2 vine-ripened tomatoes that have been seeded and chopped. Ripe Roma tomatoes would taste delicious too, if that’s all you’ve got! I’d use three or four of those.

When there’s one ladleful of hot broth left, add 2 cups baby spinach that have been chopped, plus 10 fresh basil leaves that have been chopped. Continue stirring until the rice is tender and creamy.

Last step is to take the skillet off the heat then stir in 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese. Taste then add more salt and pepper (or parm!) if you please.

That’s all she wrote! Isn’t this summery risotto GORGEOUS?! You can enjoy as is in a bowl, or serve it next to grilled chicken or shrimp – YUM. I hope you love this creamy, dreamy dish – enjoy!

bowl of risotto

Similar Recipes

Tomato-Basil Risotto

5/5 (6 REVIEWS)


Tomato-Basil Risotto is fresh and light, yet decadent and dreamy. This one pan recipe is delicious any time of year!


Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine (anything but a sweet riesling)
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


  1. Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep hot.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic, season with salt and pepper, then saute until the shallots are tender, 5 minutes. Add rice then stir to coat in butter and lightly toast for 1 minute. Add wine then stir until nearly absorbed by rice.
  3. Add chicken broth one ladle full at a time, stirring slowly until the broth has been nearly entirely absorbed by the rice before adding another ladleful. The whole process will take 30-35 minutes. Note: the broth will absorb more slowly near the end of the cooking process.
  4. When there's two ladlefuls of broth left, add the tomatoes. When there is one ladleful left, add the baby spinach and basil. Once the rice is tender, remove skillet from heat then stir in parmesan cheese. Taste then add more salt and/or pepper if necessary, and then serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Photo collage of tomato basil risotto