Smokey Red Pepper Risotto with Pimentón

October  2, 2009
Author Notes

I like to think of this dish as a perfect union between Italy and Spain—a classic dish from one country, spiced up with flavors from the other. I’ve been having a bit of a love affair recently with pipérade—a smoky red pepper sauce from Basque country, which has become condiment-like in my repertoire, appearing in anything and everything on my plate. This particular combination is one I’ve come back to again and again. The hot smoked paprika (known as pimentón in Spain) in the red pepper mixture adds an unexpected twist to rich, creamy risotto. The dish is finished with freshly grated Parmesan and torn basil leaves to offset the heat, and the end result is thoroughly satisfying, if more intense than your everyday veggie risotto. —PhoebeLapine

  • Serves 4
  • For the Red Pepper Mixture
  • 1/2 an onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or pimentón)
  • a dash of cayenne
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • For the Risotto
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • ½ an onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 10-15 basil leaves, roughly torn
In This Recipe
  1. Place your stock in a large measuring cup or bowl. Heat in the microwave for 3-4 minutes until warm.
  2. In a large deep skillet or medium Dutch oven, sauté the onion in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once translucent, about 3-5 minutes, add garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the rice and stir so it becomes coated in the oil and onion mixture. Cook for about 3 minutes to get the rice lightly toasted. Add the salt and the wine and cook, stirring, until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute. Return the heat to medium, and add ½ cup of stock, stirring occasionally until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the next ½ cup of stock and repeat the process.
  3. While the risotto is working slowly, you can turn the majority of your attention to the red pepper mixture. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion and red pepper in enough olive oil to coat the pan. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 6 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne, garlic, and cook for another 2 minutes, until the mixture is very fragrant. Season generously with salt, and carefully stir in the tomatoes. Simmer until some of the juices have evaporated, the sauce has thickened, and the vegetables are very tender, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and taste again for seasoning.
  4. Once the stock is almost gone, and the risotto has only a slight bite to it, add the red pepper mixture and any additional liquid if necessary. Stir to combine. When the risotto is at your desired texture and consistency, stir in the basil and ¾ of the Parmesan, and take the pan off the heat.
  5. Taste for seasoning, and garnish with the additional Parmesan and some torn basil leaves.

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Phoebe is a writer, gluten-free chef, culinary instructor, award-winning blogger, and author of The Wellness Project. You can find her healthy comfort food and gluten-free finds on