Pesto Risotto with Caramelised Onions

Red rissoto with added beetroot and carrot
Recipe by Joe Jones
  • Recipe difficulty - medium
  • Preparation time - 10 minutes
  • Cooking time - 50 minutes
  • Serves - 4
  • Dietary - Vegetarian Gluten free
  • Allergens - Milk

This risotto recipe is creamy, comforting and straightforward to make. The pesto, sundried tomatoes, basil and mascarpone all add work together to create a lovely flavour.

The overall time to make the dish can be reduced by emitting the slow cooked red onions. Risotto dishes are so versatile and can be made with many different ingredient combinations.



For the risotto

  • 340g Arborio risotto rice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 litre of stock, made with 2 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of red pesto
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons of mascarpone
  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable (rapeseed) oil
  • 55g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • Small handful of fresh basil, shredded (optional)
  • Pinch of ground black pepper

For the caramalised onions

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable (rapeseed) oil
  • 1 tablespoon soft light brown sugar


  • Chopping board
  • Frying pan with lid
  • Grater
  • Kitchen scales
  • Knife
  • Large jug
  • Measuring jug
  • Non-stick frying pan
  • Wooden spoon



  1. To make the caramelised onions. In one frying pan, heat the oil and butter, add the finely sliced onions and gently fry over a low heat for around 15 minutes or until soft and transparent
  2. Sprinkle over the sugar and turn up the heat. Fry for another 2-3 minutes, stirring now and then until the onions turn a caramel colour
  3. Remove from the frying pan and set aside in a bowl
  4. To make the risotto. In another large frying pan, heat the oil and butter over a medium heat.
  5. Add the finely chopped onions and cook until soft but not coloured.
  6. Lower the heat and add the rice to the frying pan, stir well to coat in the oil and onion flavours
  7. Make up the vegetable stock with 1 litre of boiling water and stir into the frying pan a little at a time, keep stirring while letting the stock become absorbed before adding more
  8. Keep adding the stock until the rice is cooked, but still has a little bite (al dente) this should take around 30 minutes
  9. Stir in the pesto, mascarpone, sundried tomatoes, cheese and basil if using
  10. Stir in a pinch of ground black pepper and serve the risotto topped with the caramelised onions

Nutrition per serving portion (serves 4)

Each portion provides on average

  • Energy

    2987kj 714kcal 35.7%
  • Fat

    55.6g 79%
  • Saturates

    26.3g 132%
  • Carbohydrates

    46.8g 47%
  • Sugars

    16.4g 18%
  • Salt

    1.97g 33%
  • Protein

    11.2g Med
  • Fibre

    3.57g Med


Cooked tomatoes are a rich source of the natural antioxidant lycopene, which may have beneficial effects at reducing risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer


Rice is a good source of slow release energy in the form of starchy carbohydrates. As they are broken down more slowly, they help to keep blood sugar levels stable