I simply adore this Red Chilli Pesto Risotto! It really is the simplest thing ever. And absolutely delicious, with its rich, spicy and creamy flavours. It’s perfect as a main or a starter. As you can see in the images here, I’ve topped it with some mozzarella balls and balsamic vinegar pearls, which add a sophisticated look to the dish.
Both are optional. But the mozzarella adds a touch of cream and the balsamic pearls, a tangy sweetness.
If you’ve been following me a while, you’ll know that I love my pesto, both the green Pesto Genovese, as well as the red Pesto Rosso, preferably Pesto Rosso Picante (spicy). I use pesto in so many different ways, as an ingredient, as a condiment, as a topping, and so much more; as you can see below:
And, as you’ll see on the Risotto Masterclass page, we’ve already got a risotto recipe with basil pesto. So doing a Red Chilli Pesto Risotto was almost a foregone conclusion. It was just a matter of when.
And the best part? It’s so, so easy to do! Whether you use a homemade red chilli pesto or shop bought pesto rosso (red pesto), is completely up to you. If your shop bought red pesto isn’t spicy, just chop up some fresh chillies and add to the risotto with the pesto. Or use chilli flakes.
Red Chilli Pesto Risotto Recipe
You know my recipes and posts are always broken down into a lengthy description of the method and ingredients. But not today, because we are essentially combining 2 recipes to make one.
This is how we do it:
- Start with making a basic white risotto (see below)
- Add the red chilli pesto in
- Finish off with some mozzarella balls, if you like
Now, as always with our risotto recipes, before we go any further, I suggest you head on over to the Basic Risotto article here on LinsFood. It’s full of everything you need, to master the art of cooking risotto.
On the basic risotto post, we talk about:
- the history of risotto
- risotto rice
- risotto stock
- risotto science (!)
- fat for risotto
- stirring or no stirring
- mantecatura – the art of creaming with the addition of fat (butter, olive oil, cheese), how we finish cooking risotto
In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about risotto. But were too afraid to ask!
Red Chilli Pesto
Red Chilli Pesto is one of those must have staples for me. Like your regular pesto, it is such a versatile ingredient, and can be used in so many different ways.
Here in the UK, you can buy chilli pesto or pesto rosso (red pesto) pretty easily, sitting next to your regular old pesto, but, what do I always say? Yep, nothing beats homemade! You can make it as spicy or as mild as you want it to be!
I know that red pesto isn’t as well known in the US or Asia as it is in Europe. So head on over to our Red Chilli Pesto page, for the 10-minute recipe. Make it up and either use all of it as this recipe calls for, or if you are making half the amount, keep the rest to have with pasta anytime in the next week or so.
Or have it with some potatoes. Or use it as a salad dressing. Did I say versatile?
If you are new to cooking risotto, or just want to improve your technique, head on over to the Basic Risotto page for a complete Risotto 101!
In fact, I suggest you do anyway, you’ll be amazed at what you may pick up. Because while extremely easy, risotto cooking is still an art. An art that is far too often mutilated in these days of quick and easy.
Why settle for mediocrity?
Also, don’t forget to check out the recipe for Red Chilli Pesto. So easy, and so, so versatile. You’ll be hooked from the word go, and I bet you this: you’ll be making it again and again with your own variation! 5 bucks say you do!
Final word on our Risotto al Pesto Rosso Picante Recipe
When cooking risotto, we finish with mantecatura, the process of creaming your risotto with fat (butter or olive oil) and cheese (not with seafood). Head on over to the Basic Risotto Post to read up on this and to understand it.
With today’s recipe, I opted to finish it with just olive oil, because the red chilli pesto is rich enough and we don’t really need any parmesan. Especially if you are serving it with some mozzarella balls. If you can’t get balls, just drop pinches of mozzarella for a rustic look. Or skip it altogether!
Shall we get our aprons on?
More Risotto Recipes
If you fancy more risotti, head on over to the Risotto Masterclass page, for treasures like:
Red Chilli Pesto Risotto (Risotto al Pesto Rosso Picante)
- 400 g carnaroli rice (or any risotto rice you can get)
- 1.5 litres vegetable stock or chicken
- 1 medium onion
- 2 Tbsp salted butter
- 2 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 125 ml dry white wine skip if you don't do alcohol
- 250 g 1 cup roughly red chilli pesto
- salt if needed
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp EV olive oil
- red chilli flakes
- small mozzarella balls about 3 per person – optional
- balsamic pearls about 1/2 tsp per person – optional
- Place your stock, or water plus stockpots on high heat. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat down and leave it to simmer happily.
- While waiting for the stock, chop the onion up finely.
- Heat the butter and olive oil on low heat and sauté the onions for 3 minutes, stirring. If your onions start to brown, lower the heat more or use a smaller hob.
- Add the rice and coat with all that fat, stirring well. Toast the rice for 3 more minutes, until the edges turn translucent.
- Increase the heat to medium and pour in the wine, stir, and leave to evaporate, stirring a little. Skip this step, if you don’t do alcohol.
- Add 1 cup of the simmering stock and stir gently. You can take a break, it doesn’t need to be round and round constantly, just regular stirring while the stock evaporates.
- When the stock has evaporated, add half a cup more of the stock, stir, and repeat this process for 13 minutes. Yes, watch the clock or put your kitchen timer on.
- Check the rice at the 13 minute mark. It should be just about done, depending on your rice, and the heat. Is it cooked – soft on the outside with just a bite in the middle? Is the risotto looking creamy, like a thick version of rice pudding? If it is, it's done. If it's not, add 1/4 cup stock, and stir. When that stock has been absorbed, check again. You shouldn't really need to cook more than 15-17 minutes.
- When the rice is done, stir in the red chilli pesto and some freshly ground black pepper, and heat through for 30 seconds if at room temperature. If your pesto rosso was in the fridge, give it a full minute.
- Check seasoning, and add salt if you think it needs it.
- Turn the heat off, take the pan off the hot hob, and stir in the 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Leave to rest for 2 minutes.
- Dish up onto plates, sprinkle with some red chilli flakes and garnish the top of your risotto with mozzarella balls and balsamic pearls, if using. Serve immediately.