Chicken and Vegetable Risotto. Cozy, comfy, and creamy without even a hint of dairy. One of my favorite meals for sick days or new mamas. (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
Originally posted October 2013. Re-tested, photographed, and updated Aug 2018.
We’re in the middle of monsoon season here in the desert, which means more (read: any) cloudy days than usual. Whenever there are clouds in the sky, I get craving some cozy comfort food, and this Chicken Vegetable Risotto is one of our family favorites.
It’s the the meal I make when someone’s sick or when it’s cold (or cloudy) outside. It’s also great for new moms and friends who need a meal for dinner. It’s a great alternative to chicken soup. It’s simple, cozy, and comforting.
I’ve got a few tips and tricks that make this faster and easier (and more dairy free–ha!) than traditional risotto, with all the luxurious creaminess you’re used to.
Risotto is one of those things that conjures images of elegance and soft lighting and close-your-eyes goodness. Usually, that comes from a hefty dose of Parmesan, a pat of butter, and a splash of cream. When we went dairy free, I’d assumed risotto was just one of those things I’d remember fondly. Not so, my friends. Not so. While certainly you could finish this with a handful of parmesan or a splash of cream, this is flavorful and delicious just as it is. No fancy restaurant needed. In fact, pajamas and blankets are more than welcome.
The flavor gets better with time, and it reheats like a dream. Here’s how to get the most out of this recipe…
Notes on this Chicken & Vegetable Risotto
Why do you add the broth all at once? In traditional risotto recipes, you add the broth about 1/2 cup at a time, slowly stirring the entire time until the risotto is creamy and the grains of rice have softened. BUT. Tyler Florence posted on his Instagram feed how he’s started making risotto by stirring the rice and all the liquid at once, rather than adding 1/2c of broth at a time to the rice. It’s SO much simpler, a little faster (about 15 minutes faster!), and the same (if not better) creamy results! It’s totally changed my life.
Let’s Talk Broth. I’ve made this MANY times in the last five years. I’ve tried it with chicken broth, vegetable broth, and beef broth and really enjoyed all of them. Use what you like and what you have! Good-quality broth is divine. If you’re out of broth but have a good quality bouillon (I like Better Than Bouillon Organic Beef, Veggie, or Chicken Base) that works great, too. I know the bouillon isn’t all-natural or nutritionally perfect. (I know!) But sometimes, you need speed or something helpful in a pinch. I find it at Sprouts or Target for around $5, though sometimes even my Costco carries it.
More Veggies. You can absolutely add more veggies to this if you like. One of my favorite additions is a few handfuls of whatever greens I have in the house (usually spinach). I stir the greens in right at the end, and the residual heat from the risotto wilts the leaves and helps them blend right in. Other yummy add-in are carrots or mushrooms, which I add right at the beginning with the onion and bell pepper.
Notes for Kids & Picky Eaters. Some kids have texture issues with different veggies (mine do!). You can help off-set this by grating (or even pureeing) your onion instead of dicing it. The grated onion will blend in a LOT better texturally with the arborio rice. Also, if your kids eat carrots, they may find it easier to eat the bell peppers if you stick to orange peppers. For some reason, they don’t seem as “scary” as the brighter reds and yellows. Or, you can swap in carrots in place of the peppers for a slightly different flavor.
Vegetarian or Vegan? You can still make this! Omit the chicken and up the veggies (add 1 cup diced carrots and 1 cup minced mushrooms) in with the bell pepper and onion and use vegetable broth.
Love This? I Bet You’d Also Like…
- Salsa Verde Chicken & Rice Soup (perfect for cozy weather or soothing a cold)
- Dirty Risotto (a Cajun-inspired risotto that’s amazing)
- My Ultimate Guide to Chicken Salad (8 different variations!)