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Roasted Tomato and Corn Risotto with Arugula Basil Pesto

Healthier risotto with tomato, corn and arugula basil pesto
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
30 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

Risotto is one of the most versatile recipes out there; you can add virtually any ingredients you like—from beets or red wine and bacon to zucchini or butternut squash—and create a beautiful, tasty, seasonal dish. Since this version omits the Parmesan cheese and butter typically added to risottos, it is a lighter dish, and the flavors of whatever ingredients you add really get a chance to shine. If you stir diligently, the final result will still be quite creamy. This pesto sauce features blanched garlic, arugula, and basil, which mellows the garlic flavor and gives the sauce a bright green color that doesn't turn brown like most other pestos.


Roasted Vegetables
  • 1⁄4 cup raw corn kernels
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Arugula Basil Pesto
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cups packed arugula leaves
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup rice vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup raw corn kernels
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Small fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)



To prepare the roasted vegetables: Preheat the oven to 450º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the corn kernels and the cherry tomatoes on the baking sheet and drizzle the oil over the top.


To make the arugula basil pesto: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice and water. Add the garlic cloves to the boiling water. After 20 seconds, add the basil and arugula and blanch for 8 to 10 seconds. Scoop out the basil, arugula, and garlic with a large strainer and immediately plunge into the ice water.


Wring the herbs of the extra water and put them in a blender with the blanched garlic, olive oil, and vinegar. Puree on high until smooth and then season with salt. Set aside.


To make the risotto: In a medium pot, heat the chicken stock over medium-low heat.


In a large heavy pan or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, until soft.


Add the rice and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until the rice is translucent except for a white center.


Start adding the hot chicken stock 1 cup at a time while continuously stirring with a wooden spoon. As the stock is absorbed, add another cup. Continue until all the stock has been incorporated and the rice is cooked to al dente. This should take about 20 minutes. In the final minute, add the corn.


Remove from the heat and stir in the basil arugula pesto. Season with salt.


Seven minutes before the risotto is to be finished, put the tomatoes and corn in the oven and roast for 7 minutes, until sizzling and golden. The tomatoes will burst.


In a small bowl, gently toss the arugula and avocado with the olive oil and a little salt.


Spoon the risotto into bowls and top with some of the salad and roasted cherry tomatoes. Garnish with the roasted corn and some small fresh basil leaves, if desired.