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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Risotto

Basil Pesto Risotto

Marc J. Sievers

Risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods, and is probably one of the most versatile things you can make at home.  The base is always Arborio rice—an Italian short grain rice with a creamy and chewy texture—and brought to life with stock and other fresh ingredients.  If in your pantry you have Arborio rice, fresh herbs, left over vegetables (raw or cooked), and a bit of stock or broth, then an easy and cozy dinner can be ready in under 30 minutes (I love that!).  This would also make a fabulous side dish when paired with something like Crispy Eggplant - Oven Style.  

For my Basil Pesto Risotto, I chose to make a version of homemade pesto, swapping out some of the olive oil for heavy cream.  Using all oil made the finished dish too oily, but the addition of heavy cream made the risotto slightly creamy and more elegant.  Because fresh basil and peas are available in most grocery stores year round, take the extra time to make the pesto from scratch, and shuck the peas by hand—you will be amazed at the difference it makes when it comes to flavor and satisfaction!

Happy risotto-making!

Basil Pesto Risotto

Ingredients for the Pesto

  • Basil Leaves – 1½ cups, fresh, lightly packed

  • Garlic – 1 clove, peeled

  • Sliced Almonds – 3 teaspoons

  • Heavy Cream – 3 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Parmesan Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions for the Pesto

  1. Place all of the ingredients into the glass jar of a blender and puree until mostly smooth. Set aside.

Ingredients for the Risotto (serves 2)

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Yellow Onion – 1 cup, ¼-inch diced

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Italian Arborio Rice – ½ cup

  • Vegetable Stock – 1 ½ cups, barely simmering

  • Basil Pesto – *Recipe above

  • Green Peas – ½ cup, freshly shucked

  • Lemon Zest – ½ teaspoon

  • Parmesan Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Directions for the Risotto

  1. Place the fresh (or frozen) peas in a bowl of very hot tap water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. In a small Dutch oven heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the Arborio rice and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes, until lightly toasted.

  4. Next, pour the hot stock over the onion and rice mixture and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 18 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. Once almost all of the liquid is absorbed by the rice, turn off the heat and stir in the pesto sauce, peas, and lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Idea:  If you do not have a small Dutch oven, any 10-inch skillet with a tight fitting lid will work just fine. 

Tip:  If you want to make this ahead of time and serve it later, reheat over low heat with a few tablespoon of heavy cream.  This will allow the rice to be warmed through without becoming dried out.

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Autumnal Risotto

Marc J. Sievers

I have to admit, I love being in the kitchen and testing recipes (while enjoying wine!). It is my way of escaping the crazy outside world; where I can be creative with flavors, both savory and sweet. And I simply adore cooking for Ryan, as he does for me!

I thought it would be festive to post a recipe inspired by Fall, and the perfect addition to your Autumn table!  I created Autumnal Risotto and it is full of warm flavors and hearty ingredients! It is a “kitchen friendly” recipe (meaning minimal complexity, time, and mess) that I know you will love!

Read on for your ingredients list and how-to:

Autumnal Risotto

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Yellow Onions - 2, chopped

  • Apple (Gala) - 1, peeled, cored, ½-inch dice

  • Garlic - 3 cloves, minced

  • Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons

  • Butter - 1 tablespoon

  • Roasted Butternut Squash - 1½ cups

  • Kosher Salt - 2 teaspoons

  • Black Pepper - 1½ teaspoons, freshly cracked

  • Rosemary - 2 teaspoons, freshly minced

  • Thyme - 2 teaspoons, freshly minced

  • Vegetable Stock - 4 cups, hot

  • Arborio Rice - 2 cups (un-cooked)

  • Spiced Apple Cider - 1 cup

  • Heavy Cream - ½ cup

  • Parmesan - 1 cup, shredded


  1. Start by combining both the vegetable stock and spiced cider in a medium sauce pan, and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

  2. In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed stock pot melt the butter together with the olive oil. Sauté the onions, apples, salt, and pepper over medium heat until the onions are translucent (about 8 to 10 minutes), and stir occasionally.

  3. Add the roasted butternut squash, minced garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Next, add the dry rice and stir until well coated and slightly translucent (about 2 minutes). Stir in 1 cup of the HOT stock mixture and simmer gently, stirring occasionally.

  5. After the stock has been mostly absorbed into the rice, add another cup of stock and let simmer and absorb. Continue this same process until the rice is cooked (about 18 to 22 minutes). When taste-testing the rice it should have a bit of a “bite” to it and be slightly al dente.

  6. Stir in the heavy cream and shredded Parmesan cheese. Remove from the heat, cover the pot, and let stand for just a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

This recipe calls for roasted butternut squash.  It is simple and easy, here's how I did it:

Roasted Butternut Squash


  • Butternut Squash - 4-pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • Olive Oil - 4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt - 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper - 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  3. Add the squash and with a large spoon, toss until coated,

  4. Place squash on a baking sheet and roast for 40 to 45 minutes,

  5. Halfway through, toss the squash pieces with a spatula to ensure even roasting and browning,

  6. Remove from oven and let cool, the squash should be aromatic and lightly caramelized.

 The roasted butternut squash can then be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Tip: My Autumnal Risotto will serve 6 people when accompanied by a crusty baguette and baby arugula salad (or a salad of your choice).  I recommend a classically themed balsamic vinaigrette for the salad (which you could enhance with a splash of citrus, like orange).  A fantastic wine pairing would be a Rombauer Vineyards Red Zinfandel (my guests really loved the peppery bold wine with the savory and slightly sweet risotto).  You may also serve the Autumnal Risotto as a delicious warm side dish.

Idea: Leftovers may be kept in the refrigerator.  When re-heating, do so on the stove over a low-medium flame adding ¼ cup of either heavy cream or vegetable stock.  You may choose to add more or less, depending on the amount you are re-heating.  You are looking for a creamy (but not wet) consistency.

I told you it was “kitchen friendly”!  Autumnal Risotto is the perfect recipe for an elegant dinner party or a casual Saturday lunch.  Your guests will crave your cooking again and again!  Luckily, I will be posting more knock-out recipes for you to try!  Have a great week everybody!

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