Smokey Red Pepper Risotto with Pimentón

October  2, 2009
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • V.
  • Lizthechef
  • Margy@hidethecheese
  • lastnightsdinner
  • Cara Eisenpress
    Cara Eisenpress
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

10 Reviews

Darian January 22, 2019
My family really enjoyed this Spanish riff on risotto. I did feel the rice retained a bit too much bite. Normally I find the optimal rice/liquid ratio is 1/4 so that would have meant a quart and a half of broth instead of a quart, for 1.5 cups of Arborio rice. I used Manchego instead of Parmesan to continue with the Spanish influence. I served with Manchego-Stuffed Shishito peppers (Eating Well magazine January 2019) and there were NO leftovers!
V. March 24, 2017
Favorite risotto recipe I have tried. Loved it (all of it)!
alisondcooper September 23, 2011
I enjoyed this recipe, however I had to make a few adjustments to the sauce. At first, it wasn't a sauce at all - just cooked peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Then I added some stock to it (which wasn't mentioned) and this helped a little. Turned out that once I mixed the red pepper mixture with the risotto, it didn't make much of a difference. My only disappointment was my basil went bad before I could use it! Thank for the recipe!
alisondcooper September 23, 2011
And, I fully disagree with Lizthechef. I thought the tomato to red pepper ratio was fine. I even added more!
Lizthechef April 2, 2010
This is a first for me. I tested and rejected your risotto for an EP, and, spurred on by food52, who encouraged to tell you why. First of all, I bow to your fresh talent and could be your grandmother. I bought fresh pimenton and cayenne, but the spice caught me in the back of my throat as bitter as I tasted the dish. Further, it didn't really deliver what I want in a veggie risotto. My husband, for example, a non-foodie, said, "This tastes too tomato-y." I added some cream and it was a beautiful side dish to my crisply roasted chicken. I hope I am not offending you. I truly gave this my best shot and wanted an EP for you, not that you need it. I welcome your response and/or critique if I get back there again. in any category. Best, Lizthechef
Lucy January 27, 2021
Thank you for your honest review. I was skeptical, now I am sure . Too much spice too little veg
Margy@hidethecheese March 19, 2010
I love that pimenton, too.
lastnightsdinner October 2, 2009
YUM. I will definitely be trying this soon - I have a ton of grilled red peppers to use up.
Cara E. October 2, 2009
Looks beautiful and delicious! And I'm so glad you finally made this after a week of considering it. I kind of thought you were all talk.
Kelsey B. October 2, 2009
This looks great, the perfect combination of risotto w/ Spanish flavors. I love pimenton and use it a lot in soup.