spinach pesto risotto

Wishing you a very happy summer solstice! Today is the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere, and the solstice been celebrated in the UK for centuries. Since it’s now officially midsummer, we had better celebrate!


We’ve been having a mini-heatwave here. London has hit temperatures of 35°c, and my city around 30°c – that’s unprecedented in such an early summer month as June. Let me paint the scene; people flocking in droves to the beaches, men embracing the chance to shed their shirts, and yet everyone complaining about the heat about twenty times a day, saying how the weather is “awful” – we’re a complicated bunch!

I was sensible and stayed inside – all the sun had made want to create a dish that wasn’t heavy, but flavoursome and colourful. I admit, cooking in the heat without a breeze or shade is a nightmare, but this dish is completely worth it. It’s fresh, light, bright, ever so tasty, and sings of summer.

Pesto and risotto are two of the greatest foods to come from Italy (arguably!) but we so rarely see them put together. The result is a deliciously vibrant green rice with a creamy sauce, strongly flavoured with garlic and the distinctive taste of arborio rice itself. The lemon, basil, and cheese from the pesto each lend their own distinctive note and fresh pin nuts across the top complete the spoonful with a crunch. Combined, it’s a marriage made in heaven.

I served my risotto with thinly sliced grilled focaccia bread with olive oil, bursts of sweet grilled cherry tomatoes, extra pesto and sautéed diced mushrooms. For me, this was the perfect balance between crispy, fresh, hearty, tasty, and zingy.


Spinach Pesto Risotto with Mozzarella

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print



  • 125g Spinach, washed
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 4 large Basil leaves
  • 100ml Olive Oil
  • 50g Pine Nuts
  • 100g Mozzarella
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Pink Salt


  • 300g Risotto rice / Arborio rice
  • Green half of a leek, washed
  • Olive Oil


  1. First, make the pesto. Take spinach (washed), crushed garlic, basil, and olive oil and combine in a blender or a mortar and pestle. You may need to add more olive oil bit by bit to achieve the consistency you need.
  2. Season the pesto with salt, fresh pine nuts, and a dash of lemon. Crumble mozzarella and stir it through – alternatively, leave out the cheese for a vegan dish. Set aside now until risotto is cooked.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the flame until medium and add the olive oil. Dice the leek and add it to the oil, stirring frequently until cooked but not coloured.
  4. Now add the risotto rice to the pan and mix the leek into the rice, until all the rice has been coated in oil.
  5. Add a little water or stock and continue to cook the rice, stirring as much as you can until the water has been absorbed. Continue this, adding more and more water and stirring constantly until risotto is getting cooked and a creamy sauce is developing.
  6. When the risotto rice is almost cooked, add the pesto sauce to the risotto pan, saving a little for garnishing. Stir it through so the risotto takes on the colour. Cook the risotto for a further 4 minutes or so, continuing to stir, until the rice is tender.
  7. Dish up into bowls and garnish with leftover pesto, toasted pine nuts, crumbed cheese, sautéed mushrooms, or grilled tomatoes to your taste.

Serve with a side of grilled bread.



21 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz says:

    I wanted to see the honey lime yoghurt cake but I can’t find the search button. I love risotto. This one looks very delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Liz, sorry about that. I’m going through a theme change and everything’s a muddle! Here’s the link to the yoghurt cake: https://straygourmet.wordpress.com/2016/06/04/honey-yoghurt-olive-oil-lime-cake/
      The risotto was indeed yummy … made a saffron and asparagus one yesterday too. 🙂 x


  2. jyo says:

    This sounds interesting…risotto with pesto…amazing combo👍


    1. Thank you! It was a bit experimental but absolutely delicious. Please try it sometime if you can find the risotto rice 🙂


  3. This is the style of a pilaf in Italian and Greek cuisine. I was Curious to see the English interpretation . The pesto gives it a certain vibrancy .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I have never tried Greek pilaf, maybe one to give a go? 🙂


      1. Italian and Greek pilaf not as commonly known is cooked in the oil and broth it has slightly more liquid than risotto and the rice is cooked soft . Kind of like this one. It reminds me of it. It is delicious.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well you’ve definitely persuaded me to try it! Sounds lovely. Thank you for the warm comments ❤


    2. The pesto also adds a delicious flavour! ❤ I think it would be great with basil pesto too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely delicious idea 💕


    1. Thank you so much Diane. ❤ It was a joy to make and eat!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kirill says:

    Looks Wonderful! I’m sure it taste great! 🙂


    1. Thanks Kirill! It’s a taste like no other 😉


  5. Megala says:

    Love that pleasant green risotto!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rutujaks says:


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rutuja! 🙂


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