A simple homemade risotto recipe with white wine, butter, and parmesan. Topped with a quick summer salad of grilled corn, tomatoes, and herbs!
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This sweet corn risotto is summertime comfort food.
We’ll start with a pretty basic risotto recipe: Just arborio rice (a short-grain Italian rice with plenty of starch to give us that ultra-creamy texture), garlic and onion, white wine, and plenty of chicken stock.
Swirl in a bit of butter and parmesan cheese right at the end, and we are in BUSINESS.
Assembling the summer risotto
Our simple risotto gets topped with a quick summer salad of grilled corn, cherry or heirloom tomatoes, a splash of lemon, and plenty of fresh basil. (Don’t skip grilling the corn if you can help it – it adds a ton of flavor!)
We aren’t mixing any veggies into the risotto itself (though you certainly can if you want to!) Just prep the salad while the risotto cooks, and then pile it on top.
Keeping the salad separate until the last minute preserves the flavor and texture of the tomatoes and herbs (so the heat of the risotto doesn’t start softening them too soon).
Let’s talk substitutions!
My favorite thing about risotto: it’s SO easy to customize. Use what you have on hand, and add extra veggies or protein to stretch this recipe further! Also fun: a build-your-own risotto bar with a bunch of different topping options.
- Some of our favorite veggie add-ins: grilled vegetables (asparagus, portobello mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant), roasted vegetables (cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, eggplant), caramelized onions, or any other herbs you have on hand! This summer risotto is also great with parsley, cilantro, or fresh sage in place of the basil.
- Add some protein: This risotto is excellent with grilled steak, salmon, sausage (a good chorizo is great here!) or prawns. If you’re not grilling, cook some shrimp or scallops in a skillet with plenty of butter on the stovetop. We also love topping it with some braised short ribs or lemon garlic chicken.
- Mix up the dairy: Parmesan is a traditional choice for risotto, but you can swap it for a sharp white cheddar, goat cheese, fontina, asiago, or pecorino cheese if you like.
- Vegan & Vegetarian options: Use a high-quality vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Vegetarians should make sure to buy parmesan cheese made without rennet. Vegans can skip the butter and cheese (use olive oil instead to sauté the garlic and onion) and swirl in some dairy-free butter or nutritional yeast at the end of the cooking process.
- Skip the wine if you like – just use extra chicken stock instead!
If sweet corn and tomatoes aren’t in season, never fear! Try a cozy mushroom risotto or our favorite butternut squash risotto instead. And as always, we recommend serving with a fresh loaf of crusty homemade bread.Print
An easy, creamy summer risotto with grilled corn, tomatoes, and basil.
FOR THE RISOTTO:
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (you’ll use half at the beginning and half at the end)
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine (we like Chardonnay)
- 5 cups chicken stock (you may not need all of it)
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- salt to taste
FOR THE CORN & TOMATO SALAD:
- 3 ears grilled corn, kernels removed (about 2 cups)
- 1 heaping cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE RISOTTO:
- Melt half of the unsalted butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Set the remaining butter aside for later.
- Add onion and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Add arborio rice and a pinch of salt to the skillet and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until rice has absorbed any remaining butter, about one minute.
- Add white wine to skillet to deglaze. Stir to incorporate, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, for 7-10 minutes or until rice has absorbed most of the wine.
- Add one cup of chicken stock and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice has absorbed nearly all of the stock. (You should be able to drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan without seeing any large pools of liquid). Repeat this process, adding one cup of stock at a time and letting the rice absorb it between each addition, until rice is cooked. As you near the end of the cooking process, you may want to add stock in smaller increments – half or even quarter cups – so as not to overcook the rice. Taste and add salt as needed between each addition: the only surefire way to know when your risotto is “done” is to taste it! When your risotto is ready, the rice should have a slight bite to it and be creamy but not stiff or gummy. When you drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan, the finished risotto should slowly seep back into the space.
- When rice is cooked, remove risotto from the heat (if you have a gas stove, turn off your burner; if you have an electric stove, turn off your burner and move the risotto pan to a cooler spot on your stove).
- Stir remaining unsalted butter and parmesan cheese into your risotto. Give it a taste and add salt if necessary. Top with the corn and tomato salad and serve immediately.
FOR THE CORN & TOMATO SALAD:
- While the risotto cooks, add grilled corn kernels, tomatoes, basil, and lemon juice to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until you’re ready to assemble the risotto.
Should I heat my chicken stock? Traditional risotto is made with warm or simmering chicken stock. Using hot stock can speed the cooking process (cold stock can cool down the pan, which adds extra cooking time to let the pan come back up to temperature) and encourage your rice to release as much starch as possible for an ultra-creamy risotto. If you have the time and the inclination, bring your chicken stock to a low simmer in a separate saucepan and ladle it directly from that saucepan into your risotto as you cook. If you don’t want to dirty an extra pot, you can add stock to a microwave-safe measuring cup and microwave it for 30 seconds or so before adding it to your risotto. We tested this recipe with cold, room-temperature, and simmering chicken stock, and honestly? They’re all fine. Using warm or simmering stock definitely makes the risotto cook a few minutes faster and it’s a little bit creamier, but the difference is pretty negligible. So do whatever you want!
If you run out of chicken stock and your risotto isn’t quite done, use vegetable stock or water to finish the cooking process.
Additions and substitutions. Be sure to read the post above for a longer list of substitution ideas! Add some protein (chicken, salmon, shrimp, steak) or veggies (asparagus, mushrooms, roasted veggies, zucchini) to stretch this dish a bit. Use sharp white cheddar, fontina, goat cheese, or pecorino in place of the parmesan. Skip the wine if you like and use extra chicken stock instead. Use canned or frozen corn (thaw it in the fridge or microwave) in place of grilled.
Vegan & Vegetarian options. Use a high-quality vegetable stock instead of chicken stock (look for veggie stock with a delicate flavor or make your own – some brands have a VERY strong taste that can overpower the risotto here). Vegetarians should make sure to buy parmesan cheese made without rennet. Vegans can skip the butter and cheese (use olive oil instead to sauté the garlic and onion) and swirl in some dairy-free butter or nutritional yeast at the end of the cooking process.
Grill your corn ahead of time. Speed up this recipe by grilling your corn in advance! Grill the corn a day or two ahead of time, slice off the kernels, and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. You can also grill the corn just before you start cooking the risotto. We don’t recommend grilling the corn while the risotto cooks (especially if you have an outdoor grill away from your kitchen) since they both need a bit of attention.
Risotto takes some time, patience, and practice. Be sure to taste as you go and don’t worry if it takes a few tries to get it perfect!
Keywords: summer, BBQ, rice