Imagine a meal that is warm, creamy, comforting, and so versatile you can pair it with almost anything and all of the flavors will mesh beautifully. Risotto is that dish!
Risotto is a creamy rice dish that originated in Italy. It is slowly cooked which allows the rice to release starches resulting in a smooth and creamy sauce.
Your risotto can be served with everything from seafood, sausage, or salad to chicken, beans, or vegetables. Read on to discover 17 enjoyable side dishes to serve with risotto.
17 Enjoyable Side Dishes to Serve With Risotto
Risotto is a delicious dish of Arborio rice cooked slowly in a creamy sauce and loaded with fresh herbs. The best thing about risotto is the flavor profile is very basic so you can pair it with almost anything and easily create a decadent meal. Here are 17 enjoyable side dishes to serve with risotto.
1. Chicken Thighs
Risotto is pretty starchy so you may want to add some protein to your dinner table. Chicken thighs are delicious, juicy, and packed with protein.
Since risotto is so basic, you can prepare or season the chicken any way you like. You can deep-fry it or oven-bake it. The crispy skin will contrast nicely with the tender risotto.
2. Braised Lemon Chicken
Chicken is as versatile as risotto as it can be seasoned any way you like. Try some braised lemon chicken with your risotto. The risotto loves citrus flavors.
Risotto requires a lot of attention and braised lemon chicken can simmer in a pan of dry white wine while you give the risotto the attention it requires.
3. Baked Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs
Who doesn’t love a great meatball? Meatballs are bite-sized and will go great with your creamy risotto. Baked in the oven, they’ll get crispy outside to add some texture to your meal.
Baked chicken and ricotta meatballs are made with ground chicken, ricotta cheese, an egg, some seasonings, and breadcrumbs and rolled up into a delicious ball of goodness.
Picture a plump, juicy sausage sitting atop a creamy and buttery bed of risotto. Italian sausage is a great addition to a steaming bowl of risotto.
You can use your favorite links, crumble it on top, or if you enjoy a challenge, make your own sausage patties or links by using your favorite ground meat.
5. Seared Scallops
Seafood goes great with risotto. Seared scallops will look beautiful nestled next to a steaming pile of herby risotto. Tender and buttery with a hint of sweetness, you’ll love seared scallops!
The secret to delicious scallops is getting them to caramelize. Pat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook in a pan of hot butter and top with fresh chives.
Sticking with seafood, serving shrimp with risotto is another great option. You can serve the shrimp on the side, serve it on top, or mix it right in for incredible flavors.
Roasted shrimp takes your creamy risotto to the next level. Impress everyone at your table with this sophisticated-looking meal. Simply season and sauté the shrimp.
Salmon is my favorite fish and like risotto, it can be flavored several different ways and all of them will have your taste buds jumping for joy.
Salmon can be cooked in several different ways. It can be baked, pan-seared, or even grilled and all of them work when pairing it with risotto.
One way to add protein to your risotto without adding meat is by topping it off with a perfectly poached egg or an egg fried the way you like it.
Topping your risotto with a poached or fried egg adds to the wonderful creaminess when it is cut into and the golden yolk runs out.
Easily accessible, affordable, and delicious, beans will make a great addition to your risotto. If they’re already cooked or canned, add them in for the last ten minutes of cooking.
White beans are the most popular choice but other options are pinto beans, black beans, and even chickpeas. They will soak up all of the delicious flavors from the risotto.
10. Sautéed Spinach
Vegetables make a great addition to a risotto dinner. Fresh spinach is preferable but canned or frozen works too when you’re in a time crunch.
Season it any way you like it. Do you like garlic? Use it! Do you prefer spicy? Add some red pepper flakes. Is simple more your flavor? Sprinkle it with salt and pepper and you’re good to go!
11. Roasted Vegetables
An easy, healthy, and delicious side for risotto is a pan full of roasted vegetables. They’ll taste as good as they look when you roast them to perfection in the oven.
For an eye-catching side, choose a combination of vegetables in a variety of colors. Try broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, and red onion drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
12. Acorn Squash
Acorn squash has a sweet, nutty flavor that is great both roasted or grilled. The mild flavor will partner well with a flavorful, herby risotto.
You can play on the sweetness of acorn squash by cooking it in butter and brown sugar or create a savory side by turning it into herb-roasted parmesan acorn squash.
If you need some fiber or protein in your diet, a good vegetable to consider is broccoli. This is possibly the simplest side on this list.
Simply steam some fresh or frozen broccoli until it is fork-tender. It’s easy to add more flavor too. You can add salt, pepper, feta cheese, or your favorite vegetable seasoning.
14. Sautéed Mushrooms
Let’s not overlook what a great side dish mushrooms make. There are many varieties to choose from and most have a delicious earthy taste that goes great with risotto.
Try some baby bellas sautéed in butter with some fresh thyme or some portabella mushroom caps can be roasted and stuffed with the risotto to make a beautiful and great-tasting meal.
15. Kale Salad
Kale is a super green that has many health benefits. It is loaded with vitamins and low in calories. It’s a savory and hearty green that’s delicious cooked or fresh in a salad.
All you need for this simple kale salad is kale, sliced almonds, parmesan cheese, and a homemade lemon vinaigrette. Since kale is known to be a little tough, knead it first to soften it.
16. Caprese Salad
Caprese salad is full of fresh ingredients and makes a beautiful, colorful, and delectable side dish to serve with your risotto. Guests will love it.
Ripe sweet tomatoes, fresh creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves drizzled in a balsamic vinegar reduction come together to create an irresistible side.
17. Arugula Salad
Let’s end the list with a simple and beautiful salad. This salad will compete with our steamed broccoli as the simplest side on the list.
Arugula, fresh lemon juice, and some olive oil are all you need for this basic salad. Of course, you can dress it up and add
Comforting, savory, and creamy, risotto is a powerfully pleasing dish by itself but when you add one of these amazing side dishes, you’re going to have an unforgettable meal.
Whether you pair risotto with a meaty side like chicken thighs or a vegetable side like steamed broccoli or caprese salad, you’re sure to find a winning combination with any one of these 17 enjoyable side dishes.