There is nothing like a comforting risotto as part of my meal to make me feel all warm inside. I love how creamy and thick it is, almost like a porridge. Anyone who has eaten risotto before knows that it is best when accompanied by some other foods as part of a meal, though. It can be kind of bland on its own, just like white rice is.
It needs some food to go with it, and I have some great ideas to flesh out your meal and make the risotto a partner in a culinary masterpiece. I like to think of risotto as a blank canvas, and I paint my meal on top of it, usually piling whatever accompanying food I am making literally on top of the risotto.
What kinds of food make for a good meal when combined with risotto? I am looking for something savoury or flavourful, since the risotto can be kind of bland. I also like garnishing or seasoning the risotto to make it a stronger dish in the meal.
A little parsley or some basil leaves will give it colour. The colour of the dish as a whole matters to me as well. The way the dish looks is important because it affects our perception of the food and how appealing it is.
If food is bland looking, it may trick our brain into thinking that it is bland tasting. Grey or white foods are particularly bad at deceiving our senses into thinking we are consuming something boring and tasteless, so something like risotto needs some spicing up. It needs to look appetising, and I want to share with you a few different foods that not only taste great with risotto but also look good with it.
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What to Serve with Risotto
Tasty, succulent pork chops provide a nice visual and flavour contrast to something bland and white like rice or risotto. What’s really great about this dish is that you can spread some chives, parsley, basil, or another green herb on it and give the entire dish some colour.
Since risotto is soft and creamy, the slight toughness of pork chops makes for a great counterbalance of texture. Grilling or pan searing the chops helps to bring out their juices, and you can use those juices on your plate and let them mesh with the risotto, flavouring up the mostly flavourless dish nicely.
If you don’t care as much about the colour, you can always add some garlic and onions to your pan when you cook the pork chops and sauté them in butter to give your dish a ton of added flavour. Also, if you are wondering what meat to serve with mushroom risotto, I say go with pork chops all the way.
What to serve with risotto for vegetarian and vegan options? I think string beans are a good choice because of the vibrant green colour (of course) and because of the kind of tough texture that contrasts to the smooth and creamy risotto. I go back to grilling or pan searing with this dish, as that tenderises the beans and gives them a slightly blackened look that is so appealing in contrast to the risotto.
If you want some flavour to get into the risotto, you can sauté the beans, but you could also add some parmesan cheese or other topping that appeals to you.
Coconut Toasted Shrimp
Let’s go with something crispy to answer the question of what meat to serve with risotto. Coconut shrimp is a favourite of tropical menus, and it’s a good companion for your risotto. When I look for side dishes to go with something bland like risotto, I often want something that stands out for its texture, and coconut shrimp does just that.
It’s light, crispy exterior and soft, chewy interior are so good with the creamy risotto. Be careful when you make this to not overcook your shrimp or it will dry out inside and not give you the juiciness it is supposed to have in every bite.
What to serve with mushroom risotto? I think steamed broccoli goes great with mushrooms, and if you cook the mushrooms and steam your broccoli, you create a satisfying dish that is soft, creamy, and flavourful.
It adds some nutrients and much needed fibre to the meal, helping with digestion. Of course, the added colour of the broccoli makes this a winner as well, and I love the similar but slightly different textures you get with all of these foods working together.
Some flavourful roasted potato wedges are also a good fit for your risotto as well. Be sure to season the wedges and then enjoy how the salt interacts with the risotto, helping to bring out its flavour. Rotating the wedges gives them a slightly crispy outer layer, which contrasts so well with the creamy risotto you’ll wonder how you lived without having this dish before.
Fill this meal out with a light salad, and for your dressing, I suggest a creamy ranch, blue cheese or thousand island as perfect accompaniment to the risotto.
What to Serve with Risotto Milanese?
One of my favourite ways to have risotto is as a dish known as Milanese. This gets its distinctive flavour and yellow appearance from the saffron powder and chicken stock that are mixed in. This is an even creamier version of risotto, and it is similar to a soup or a curry.
One of the more traditional foods to have with risotto Milanese is a poached egg, but garlic steamed vegetables are also a good choice. A lot of egg dishes work well with this, including fried egg. If you are feeling like you could put some extra effort into your meal, you could go all out and make a tasty quiche.
What meat to serve with risotto Milanese? I think a smoked sausage works really well. The salty meat really helps to bring out the flavour of the risotto and the spices used to make this dish. Chopped chicken and ground beef work well too. Any kind of small, bite-sized meat should be a good choice with this dish.
What to Serve with Butternut Squash Risotto?
Butternut squash risotto is one of those seasonal dishes that always seems to show up all over internet recipe sites during Thanksgiving time. I love to make this one because of how colourful and flavourful it is, but what to serve with butternut squash risotto?
Roasted veggies are one of my top choices for this dish, particularly peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli. You could also go with some herb roasted chicken or a cut of lamb. All of these foods help to bring out and accentuate the flavour of the butternut squash and add a nice dash of colour variety to your dish.
What to Serve with Lobster Risotto?
Another great way to make your risotto is with some subtle lobster flavour or with cuts of lobster meat. It’s traditionally made using lobster tail.
I look at this as a seafood dish, so the normal foods I would serve with seafood fit well with it. That means more seafood is always an option, particularly grilled shrimp or scallops. It also goes very well with a nice salad, potato wedges, or steamed vegetables.
If you are making this dish for kids, mac and cheese is a great fit as are corn dogs and chicken nuggets.
What are some meat-based dishes that pair well with risotto?
Depending on the type of risotto, different meat dishes can complement it nicely. For instance, a lighter risotto, like lemon risotto, can be served with grilled chicken or fish. A richer risotto, such as mushroom risotto, pairs well with braised beef or roasted pork. Seafood risotto goes beautifully with seared scallops or grilled shrimp.
What are some vegetarian-friendly options to serve alongside risotto?
Vegetarian options that pair well with risotto can range from a fresh, bright salad to roasted or steamed vegetables. If the risotto is heavy, a simple arugula salad with a tangy vinaigrette could balance it out. If the risotto is lighter, consider roasted vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or a medley of bell peppers. Grilled Portobello mushrooms also pair well with many types of risotto.
Does the type of risotto (e.g., mushroom, seafood, vegetable) affect what it should be paired with?
Absolutely, the type of risotto you make can definitely influence what dishes will best complement it. Mushroom risotto, for instance, has a rich, earthy flavor, and goes well with hearty, robust dishes like roasted meats for non-vegetarians, or grilled eggplant for vegetarians. Seafood risotto, on the other hand, is best complemented by lighter, more delicate flavors such as grilled vegetables or a crisp, green salad. Similarly, a vegetable risotto can pair well with a variety of dishes, depending on the specific vegetables used and the overall flavor profile of the dish.