There was a restaurant nearby us, South Side Steele, that served pesto risotto as the side to their Chilean Sea Bass. It was my husband and his best friend's hang out and I would occasionally meet them there for dinner. Their food was amazing and they had a great beer selection. My husband is still sad the restaurant closed after a little more than a year.
The pesto risotto might have been the side dish, but it was stealing the show. I was ordering the fish just so I could enjoy the pesto risotto.
I have made this many times and it is always amazing.
This is a great recipe to make right now to use up some garden basil and it's not too hot out. Making risotto is very hot!
Pesto Risotto- recipe by me and the back of the Wegmans brand box of the risotto. (I used the back of the box to tell me the ratio of liquid to risotto and the cooking technique.) Serves 4 as main dish, 6 as side dish.
6 1/2 cups chicken broth or water (broth is more flavorful)
2 cups risotto
3 T butter
1 cup good olive oil
4 cloves garlic (use less or more to your taste)
1/4 c pine nuts (or walnuts or no nuts, its up to you)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 tightly packed cups of fresh basil
few cracks of black pepper
pinch of salt
Add olive oil, garlic and pine nuts to a food processor or blender. (I used a blender.) After the garlic and nuts are chopped, add the basil, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan heat the chicken broth. In a large pan melt the butter and stir in the risotto on medium-high heat with a wooden spoon. Let the risotto soak up all the butter, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup of broth and stir the risotto until the broth has all been absorbed. Slowly add the broth one cup at a time (I use a ladle) and stir constantly making sure each cup full of broth has been absorbed before adding more. Did I mention stir constantly? You have to stir it constantly the entire time to have a creamy risotto. When you have 1 cup of broth left only add 1/4 at a time, you might not need to use all of it. Taste the risotto, it should be creamy with a little al dente bite. It shouldn't be crunchy.
When the risotto is ready turn off the heat and stir in the pesto. Use a little extra basil to garnish if you wish. Serve as a side dish, or a main dish.