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A summery Tomato Risotto highlighting juicy, sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes, and infused with saffron. Serve this as a vegetarian main, seasonal side dish, or top it off with smoky, pan-seared shrimp. Vegetarian-adaptable!
On a cool afternoon or any afternoon, take thee to the woods. There is a spirit there, ancient, waiting to soothe your soul. We call it time. ~D.M. Jenkins
Is there anything better than summer’s sweet and juicy tomatoes, picked right off the vine? I look forward to them every year, never tiring of their goodness.
Here they are blistered in a pan before going into a flavorful saffron-infused risotto recipe. It’s hearty enough for a vegetarian main, or can be served a flavorful side dish to grilled fish and meats.
You can also top this off with Smoky pan-seared shrimp (or fish). An easy adaptable meal that can be kept vegetarian, or bumped up with a protein for meat-eaters.
How to Make Tomato Risotto | 30-second video
Ingredients in Tomato Risotto:
- ripe tomatoes- cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or small roma
- onion or shallot
- veggie broth or chicken stock
- short-grain rice- arborio rice, bamba rice
- white wine
- salt & pepper
- smoked paprika
- a little pat of butter
- parmesan cheese, or use vegan parmesan
- fresh herbs
How to make the Best Tomato Risotto!
The recipe starts with fresh, juicy summer tomatoes.
Use cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, if possible. They are easiest to blister.
While they soften and blister in a skillet, start the risotto recipe by sauteing the onion or shallot until golden and tender. Add the garlic.
Add the arborio rice or short-grain rice.
Here I’m actually using a type of short-grain Spanish rice, typically used for Paella.
Saute the rice until it becomes translucent, 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with white wine if you like.
Add enough warm broth or stock to cover the rice, about 2 cups, along with a pinch of saffron.
If your saffron is deep and red, it will only take a pinch. If it is lighter in color- like orange or yellow, it may take a couple of pinches. Crush it in your fingers before adding.
Then add the warm stock a cup at a time, stirring frequently, letting the rice absorb it, before adding any more.
Be patient here, this will take 20-25 minutes.
At the same time, chop up your cooled, blistered tomatoes and add these along with all their flavorful juices into to the risotto pot.
Keep adding stock a cup at a time, letting the rice absorb it, each time. I used about 6 3/4 cups of veggie stock here, but depending on heat level and the type of rice, it may take more or less.
Once the rice becomes tender and has a creamy texture, season with salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, a little butter and parmesan cheese.
Some may prefer a “looser” risotto, one that lays flat in a bowl, so feel free to add more broth, right before serving to get the consistency exactly how you like it.
What is the secret to good risotto?
The secret to making the BEST risotto is achieving a creamy texture without overcooking and having the perfect flavor balance.
If risotto is bland, add more salt, black pepper and a pinch of chili flakes. Finish with some lemon zest for a touch of brightness.
Serve this as a vegetarian main, or side dish.
Or feel free to add shrimp or salmon.
If adding shrimp, season with the spice rub in the recipe card.
Pan-sear for a couple of minutes until golden and flavorful.
Top the tomato risotto with the flavorful shrimp.
Sprinkle some fresh herbs, parsely or fresh basil is nice.
How to Make Risotto Ahead?
In our catering business, we would have to cook large batches of risotto on site. One way we handled this was to par-cook the risotto- meaning, partially cook it, cool it ,transport it, then close to serving time, heat it up adding more broth and finally the cheese. You can easily do this at home when entertaining.
What to serve with Tomato Risotto
Little Gem Salad with Dilly Ranch Dressing
Fennel Salad with Cucumber and Dill
Can this be made vegan?
Yes, feel free to substitute vegan parmesan cheese and leave off the meat. Obviously, if you have both meat-eaters and vegetarians in the same house, you can add shrimp to some and leave shrimp off others. Super easy. 😉
How to store & Reheat leftover risotto
Leftover risotto gets even more flavorful after a couple of days (if it lasts that long!) as the flavors have a chance to meld. it will keep up to 4 days in the fridge, or freeze for up to 3 months. Just warm it back up in a pan on the stove with a little more broth or water, adjusting salt.
On the homefront: My husband started a nightly ritual of hot and cold dipping. Where we are staying in Santa Barbara there is a hot tub and a very cold pool. Yes, we’re spoiled. 😉 We wait until it’s dark outside, and the stars and moon are gloriously bright, and we start our practice, first in the hot, then in the cold and repeat over and over.
In the beginning, I couldn’t help how effortlessly Brian would slip into that freezing cold water, without a gasp, moonlight on his skin. I, on the other hand, would grit my teeth, gasp loudly and resist with all my might. When I asked him how he did that so painlessly, he simply said, “Embrace the cold”.
So several nights after that, I just started paying attention to what was happening as I stepped in that cold water. How my mind created fear around what was coming, how my body totally tensed in response to those thoughts.
My mind had made the cold out to be the enemy. It created a whole story around it. Eventually, I was able to see it for what it was. Just cold water. Something that would not kill me. 😉 I would be lying if I told you it’s easy now. But, surprisingly, it’s not quite as hard. It has been a good practice for me.
Of course, I can’t help but look at other areas of my life and how this applies. When I resist and listen to stories in my head, instead of just feeling the real experience, I stop the beautiful flow that so wants be, and in its place comes anxiety, restriction, suffering. When I let go of “stories”, embracing whatever is, life becomes easier and more effortless. I know this, but I forget.
I love how the physical world mirrors and reminds us of our inner work. To me, these everyday lessons are so digestible. So perfectly crafted for us. Kind of magic!
Other Related Recipes you might like:
- Lemony Asparagus Risotto
- Butternut Risotto with Leeks (Instant Pot or Stovetop)
- 25 Vegetarian Dinners to Make Now!
- Spring Pea Risotto with Halibut
- Meyer Lemon Risotto with Black Cod
- Instant Pot Risotto!
- Mushroom Risotto with Frizzled Leeks
Ok friends, I’m curious if you’ll like this one as much as we do.
Tell us what you think in the comments below with any adaptations you make.
Thanks and hope your week is well!
Tomato Risotto with Saffron
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: vegetarian, seafood
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Spanish
- Diet: Vegetarian
Tomato Risotto with juicy vine-ripened tomatoes, and infused with saffron, can be served as a vegetarian main or side dish, or topped off with smoky shrimp.
- 1 lb cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 white or yellow onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4–6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice or Spanish short-grain rice
- pinch saffron
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 6–8 cups veggie stock or chicken stock, warmed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
Garnishes: Italian parsley (or basil), lemon zest, and chili flakes
Seared Prawns (optional, see notes)
- 16 ounces large shrimp -raw, peeled, deveined (or sub a white fish)
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- oil for searing
- BLISTER TOMATOES In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes (whole) and sear, stirring occasionally, until they burst and soften, about 7 minutes. Turn heat off. Chop if extra-large.
- MAKE RISOTTO: At the same time, in a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions. Saute until golden about 10-12 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, saute 2 more minutes until fragrant.
- Add the rice, saute 1 minute, stirring. Add 2 cups warm stock (enough to cover the rice), saffron and smoked paprika, stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add 1 cup broth and the tomatoes and all their juices. Stir until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1 cup at a time, letting the rice absorb it slowly, stirring often over med-low heat, until the rice is plumped, slightly al dente, yet creamy, about 20-25 minutes. You may not need all 8 cups. ( I used 6 3/4).
- Stir in the butter and parmesan. Season generously with salt, pepper, and optional chili flakes. Taste, adjust salt. If bland, it probably needs more salt.
- Serve as a flavorful side or vegetarian main, garnishing with fresh parsley and lemon zest.
Optional Seared Prawns:
- If adding the prawns, mix spices and salt in a bowl. Coat shrimp with the spices. Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a skillet (you may need to do this in batches) over medium-high heat, sear each side 2-3 minutes or until cooked through. Top the risotto with the seared prawns.
Feel free to sub white fish (halibut, cod, sea bass, black cod, etc.) or scallops for the shrimp. Sometimes I’ll add whole cumin seeds to the rub for extra texture.
Serves 4 as a main, or 8 as a side dish.
- Serving Size: 1 ½ cup serving without shrimp
- Calories: 435
- Sugar: 6.9 g
- Sodium: 943.1 mg
- Fat: 12.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 73.1 g
- Fiber: 2.8 g
- Protein: 9 g
- Cholesterol: 11.2 mg
Keywords: tomato risotto, vegetarian risotto, shrimp risotto,
it was absolutely devine!! Definitely a keeper 🥘
Can I do this recipe in the instant pot using the instructions and amounts listed in your Instant Pot risotto recipe?
I haven’t tried it personally but I bet it would work? I don’t see why not. Let me know how it goes if you do try it…thanks!
Sylvia – thanks for sharing this. Made it for my wife’s birthday and all of us including the kids really loved it. I scrapped all the cooked tomato juice from the skillet so the colour was a lot darker than the photos on this post – and I also did my own change by adding toasted pecan and pine nuts – overall a great dish and one that we can now launch on our friends and family
This was so freaking delicious! My pickiest eaters told me this is now in their top 5 of favorite dinners. Thank you for sharing your talent and helping our family expand their food horizons.
Love it, thanks Leslie!
How would you make this using an Instant Pot?
Hi Kelly! I would go to the Instant Pot Risotto post, use those directions but use these ingredients. Except, I would blister the tomatoes separately then stir them in at the very end.
Delicious!!! I have tomatoes coming out my ears & I made this last night & paired it with a simple green salad with tomatoes and cucumber, topped with some seeds & a cilantro lime dressing.
Everyone loved it, especially my kids and a their friend. They all had 2nds.
Thank you… amazing recipe for my vegetarian family!!!!
Great to hear Alisha!
This was excellent, a crowd pleaser, the flavors worked so well. I used garden fresh, sweet cherry tomatoes and followed the recipe exactly, including the shrimp. What I appreciate about your recipes is that each time I make one, I learn something new. This time, I learned how to use smoky paprika and really tasted it. My husband and I enjoyed a crisp white wine with this risotto and enjoyed every moment of this meal! Thank you Sylvia.
Awwwww, thanks! Glad you both enjoyed this!
This risotto is delicious and pretty easy! Was my first time ever making risotto from scratch and it turned out so great! I even left out the Parmesan – thought we had some but didn’t- and it was still super yummy! We paired with steaks, then had leftover pulled pork with it the next day and both were great pairings. We’ve been doing more and more meatless meals and this risotto could definitely be a stand alone entree! All around winner for us!
Great to hear Trisha!
Made it tonight with instant pot. 3 cups of rice, 4 cups of broth for 5 mins, nature release. Super yummy! Would definitely do it again!
Awesome Collen- this is super useful- thanks!!!
Oh my gosh, this is amazing.
Made it with shrimp and I love it, my family loves it.
Thank you for another great recipe .
Thanks FAbian, so happy everyone liked it!
Really, really lovely!! I used a pinch of imitation saffron powder and it was just lovely. Definitely recommend adding chilli flakes in when you stir through the parmesan cheese.
Thanks and happy you liked this! 🙌
This recipe was so easy and the tomatoes were a fresh taste to my normal mushroom risotto! Will definitely make this again!
Yum! SO EASY and so delicious. I added yellow summer squash. I did the veggie version but added a little cumin since I left the protein out and that had cumin. So good! I could eat the whole batch myself! Paired with Javier San Pedro Tempranillo from TJ’s 🙂
Sounds perfect! Cheers.
OMG! Total heaven I did not have shrimp, so I used mahi mahi. The seasoning for the fish is Amazing. How does one give this 10 stars?
Great to hear Lorraine!Happy you enjoyed this!
This was awesome! I used only 1T for the tomatoes but that was the main difference. The tomatoes we had (we live in CA) were just divine- tasted like we added sugar! The saffron was a nice flavor enhancer and we added two pinches of saffron salt that we had on hand. We left off the shrimp and used it as an entree.
So glad we found this recipe!
Thanks, so happy you liked this!
Hi, I wondered where the protein is for a vegetarian or vegan? OK with prawns for a pescatarian or carnivore
Hey- you can always add. I personally don’t always serve a protein with vegetarian meals. Like for example, mushroom risotto- same idea. In this case, if you want to add, use the prawn rub on tofu and pan sear, that would be tasty.
Delicious. I made it with shrimp, we loved the spices. It ‘s a great blend of flavors and textures.
Should the rice be cooked before putting it in
Can the chef recommend a wine pairing with this dish? Making it tomorrow for some family friends 🙂
How about a lighter-bodied red, yet still flavorful- rioja, Sangiovese, Salice Salentino, or Barbara.
This is a perfect summer dish and so delicious! Followed recipe (with shrimp) except for two minor modifications:
1) Wanted the finished dish to look as pretty as the top photo and knew the blistered tomatoes wouldn’t remain whole after 20 minutes of stirring, so slow roasted extra tomatoes and added them at the last minute 🙂
2) Added some corn as Lynda did. This really elevated the texture.
Thank you, Sylvia, for another delicious and adaptable recipe – I plan to sear tofu with the same spices for the leftover risotto.
Oh my was this good! One of the few recipes so far we all agree on. I did lighten up on the cumin in the rub and only used 2 teaspoons.
We enjoyed this very much. Made one addition- I sliced the kernels off of 2 ears of fresh sweet corn and added them in when the garlic was added. Will definitely make this again soon.
Oh yum. Love the addition of corn.
We’ve been vegan for less than a year and favorite recipes to make over and over that we love is our Holy Grail. This is a keeper. OMG we both went back for seconds. Next time I think we’ll double the tomatoes as we didn’t use enough. Finding, purchasing and using saffron for the first time was an adventure and we went for it. I don’t think we used enough and we didn’t crush it before adding but we’ll be making this again soon…after we try your latest eggplant recipe. Sylvia, your Smoky Beans and Greens we make every week. You are our favorite chef.
🥰 Awwwwww thanks!
I searched your site for smoky beans and greens and came up empty. Do you have a link?
I’m not sure that is mine?? But it sounds amazing! 😉
This recipe looked amazing to me as soon as I saw it and I am glad to report that it did not disappoint. The spice combination paired wonderfully with the creamy richness of the risotto. Five stars all around. I will definitely be making this again very soon!
Great to hear!
Excellent! Make with Orzo pasta (didn’t have the rice on hand) and cooked the same way – delicious.
Great to hear!