Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto

Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto
Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto

We make risotto A LOT. And honestly we love it every time! But this one just hits differently. With the fresh, sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and garlic and a few other additions, this risotto has quickly become one of our favorites! We know you will love the fresh, yet rich, flavors in this Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto!

What makes this risotto so special?

One of the reasons risotto is such a popular dish throughout the world is because of its creamy texture without the addition of cream. The creaminess is the result of the process where the rice releases its starch into the
liquid slowly, forming a creamy, wonderful risotto. This texture is the essence of risotto and its important to use the right rice in order to achieve this amazing creamy consistency.

What rice can I use to make risotto?

Bottom line: not all rice is created equally when it comes to risotto.

As for the rice, Carnaroli is our favorite, but Vialone Nano, and Arborio work very well also. We have found that Arborio is the most readily available where we are, but we go out of our way to find Carnaroli. It just produces a
creamier texture and has a better overall mouthfeel in our opinion.

Beautiful creamy risotto with cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil!

Can I use different tomatoes?

Using cherry tomatoes is important to this dish. Grape tomatoes have a wonderful flavor, but
they have too thick of a skin and have too firm of a texture (in our opinion) to go with the melt-
in-your-mouth risotto. Obviously, summertime cherry tomatoes from farmers’ markets or your
backyard garden will make this dish better if you have those options, but this is still fabulous with store-bought
cherry tomatoes that are generally available year-round.

Any other tomato won’t result in the same flavor profile for this dish, so go ahead and buy those cherry tomatoes and you won’t regret it!

Flavor Makers

Four other important ingredients round out this dish and are important for the final flavor

Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto
A delicious risotto with multiple levels of flavor!

White Balsamic Vinegar
First, white balsamic vinegar is now widely available, and it lends a great complimentary touch to the dish. Just a touch of sweetness and unique flavor without being overpowering is
what the vinegar brings to this risotto.

Second, we used garlic. Most of the time, we do not use garlic when cooking risotto. Don’t get us wrong, we absolutely love garlic, but we find that in the US especially, garlic is overused in Italian food and often overpowers the entire dish. We love to keep some dishes truer to the source, and risotto is often one of those dishes. However, we found that the addition here was subtle enough to enjoy but added depth of flavor and just made the overall taste a bit better with more levels of flavor.

Pecorino Romano
Third is the Pecorino Romano cheese. Again, we usually opt for Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), because it is
perfect for risotto. But here, the earthier sheep’s milk cheese, Pecorino, just works better to counter
the sweetness of the tomatoes. Either will work, but the Pecorino works best in our opinion.

Finally, don’t forget tomato’s best friend – basil. Not only does the fresh basil pop with color, but it
also balances the dish perfectly.

Tips for Making a Better Risotto

  • Use the correct rice! Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, or Aborio
  • Use a good quality stock (low sodium preferred).
  • Add the stock slowly, 1-2 small ladles at a time, and allow it to soak into the rice completely before adding the next ladles of stock.
  • Stir frequently! Risotto requires some babysitting to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and absorbs the stock evenly.
  • Tastes your risotto at the 18-20 minute mark when about 3/4 of the stock has been added. When it is done, the rice should be al dente (it will have a little bite), but should not be hard or crunchy.
Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto
Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto


We hope you enjoy this recipe for Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto! If you give it a try, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the recipe in comments below. Or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Looking for more Italian recipe inspo?

If you want even more Italian-inspired recipes, check out our cookbook, Mangiamo, filled with 60 original recipes!

Mangiamo the cookbook
Mangiamo, the cookbook

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Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto

Course: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • 32 oz 32 vegetable stock

  • 1 Tbsp 1 tomato paste

  • 4 Tbsp 4 unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 small 1 shallot (20g) finely diced

  • 2 cloves 2 garlic, minced

  • 1 cups 1 risotto rice (Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, or Aborio)

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 dry white wine

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 black pepper

  • 2 tsp 2 white balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tsp 1 kosher salt

  • 18 small 18 cherry tomatoes, halved (about 1.5 cups in total)

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 basil, chiffonade

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 grated Pecorino Romano cheese


  • In a saucepan, warm the stock over medium-low heat. Add the tomato paste and whisk, making sure the tomato paste is fully incorporated into the stock. You will occasionally need to stir the stock before adding to the risotto.
  • While the stock is warming, start the risotto. In a separate large skillet or braiser, melt 3 Tbsp of butter over medium to medium-low heat and, when melted, add the shallots. Cook gently without browning the shallots until they are translucent. It will take just a minute or two.
  • Next, add the garlic and cook until fragrant – about 15 seconds. Stir in the rice, making sure it is coated in the butter and turn the heat to medium. Stirring often, let the rice absorb the butter. This will take about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir and scrape with a wooden spoon, making sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Once the wine has absorbed, add a ladle or two of stock (about ½ cup total) and stir. As the rice absorbs the stock and starts to stick to the pan, add more stock in the same increments and continue to stir. Once you’ve added the stock the second time and it has absorbed, add the black pepper and vinegar and stir well.
  • Continue adding stock a couple small ladles at a time until about 3/4 of the stock has been added (after about 18 minutes of cooking), then stir in the salt and tomatoes. The tomatoes will warm and release some juice, but should remain relatively intact when finished, so don’t add too early. They should be added right before or after the final ladle of stock. After about 20 total minutes of cooking, taste the rice for doneness – it should be firm but not hard – like al dente pasta.
  • Once the rice is done (approximately 20-25 minutes of cooking), remove it from the heat and stir in the cheese and last tablespoon of butter until melted. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Stir in the basil and serve.

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