Pesto Chicken Risotto

IMG_3470I don’t know about you but risotto is my ultimate comfort food for those cold and dreary winter months. Sadly, though, basil – the main component of the pesto – is actually a summer herb so it is just coming to the end of it’s season, which means if you’re are going to make your own pesto for this risotto (which I strongly urge you to do) you must make it soon or you will find that there will be no fresh basil to use. Oh no!

So basically this is the perfect autumn risotto for when the weather decides to get a little bit chilly.



Pesto Chicken Risotto

Serves 4


Pesto –

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup basil leaves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup grated parmesan chees, best quality

Risotto –

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup Arborio or other risotto rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan, to serve
  • Extra pesto, to serve

Chicken –

  • 2 chicken breasts, skin on
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs each of Ras el hanout, harissa, and thyme (optional)


  1. For the pesto, place all the ingredients in a small blender and season to taste.
  2. For the risotto, heat the oil to moderate and add the onion. Cook this until it is tender but not coloured. Add the garlic and the rice and cook until all is coated. Add the wine and allow that to be absorbed. Then gradually add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring all the time until the rice is creamy but retains a firm heart. You want a soft mixture that flows, adjust the liquid accordingly. Remove from heat and season well.
  3. Combine the chicken with oil and seasoning. Grill or barbecue the chicken over a moderate heat until just cooked through then cut into slices.
  4. When the risotto is done mix through most of the pesto, reserving a little. Plate the risotto, top with the sliced chicken and then finish with the rest of the pesto and perhaps some more grated parmesan.


I added 1 cup of pumpkin and some spinach to the risotto for some added health benefits and an extra twist

This recipe is from the STM magazine in the Sunday Times from last weekend for those of you from Western Australia who would like to know. It is one of Marg Johnson’s recipes so you may be able to find it somewhere online.


As I said before, I strongly urge you to make your own pesto because, not only is it so much healthier, I find it actually tastes a whole better thanks to the use of all the fresh ingredients. You will thank me later!


The Lowdown:

Everyone knows that pasta is the ultimate pre-race dinner for the day before a competition but if you’re getting a bit sick of the usual spaghetti Bolognese and want to try something a bit different I would highly recommend this meal.

This recipe is full of complex carbohydrates from the rice, you get your fix of protein from the chicken, and there are loads of vitamins and minerals provided by the pesto and vegetables. Protein is essential in reducing muscle breakdown during exercise and helps improve performance so don’t ever forget about it.

This is actually a little bit healthier than the usual risotto, especially because the original recipe called for an extra 1 cup of Parmesan and some butter to mix through the risotto with the pesto. Despite not adding it in, it is actually packed full of flavour and is quite hearty and filling, making it great for a winter comfort food. It also doesn’t have any cream in it, despite the lovely creamy consistency.

Tanisha xx


2 thoughts on “Pesto Chicken Risotto

    • No worries! I think it all really depends on your personal preference; some like a really creamy risotto and some like it a bit dry. If you do like it creamy I have heard that it helps to add a little bit of butter towards the end but I don’t do this. However, I do stir it consistently and only add a small amount of liquid at a time. Hope this helps! 🙂


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