Homemade Carrot Risotto Goes with Everything

My brother hasn’t been in the car with us for twenty minutes when I hear him say something in passing about a spring pea risotto he tried the week before.

Before I can stop myself, I’m exclaiming, “Risotto? I want to make risotto! How do you do it? Was it hard?”

Then I say to Tim, “Remember the carrot risotto we had in California?”

Vertical overhead oblique closeup of a round white bowl of carrot risotto, sprinkled with fresh flat leaf parsley, with another bowl at the top left corner of the frame, on a gray slate surface topped with a dark and light blue, black, and white patterned cloth with a triangular pattern, on top of a dark gray slate surface, printed with orange and white text.

This version was enjoyed at a restaurant called La Bicyclette. It was the highlight of our meal and maybe our entire trip, the kind of entree you never forget.

I know Tim knows it, too. This was a carrot risotto so creamy and buttery, so cheesy and comforting, and so beautifully bright orange in a way things hardly ever are naturally.

After we ate it, I gushed over how warm, savory, and amazing it was. But I didn’t dream of going home and trying it myself because, just between us, making risotto from scratch scares me a bit.

Overhead shot of carrot risotto in two white bowls, a small glass dish of grated Pecorino, a dark and light blue and black patterned place mat and a fork, a few whole carrots, scattered sprigs of fresh thyme, and a glass of white wine, on a dark gray slate surface.

In my mind, risotto is of the realm of great chefs, top restaurants, and five-star reviews. It’s made with talent, skill, and precision.

There was a time when I approached it once years ago, but the results were hard and bland, and it crunched when you took a spoonful…

Vertical overhead shot of two white bowls of homemade carrot risotto with thyme, onion, and fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish, with a frosty glass of white wine, a dark and light blue cloth napkin with a fork on top, and scattered sprigs of fresh herbs, on a dark gray slate surface.

Jump back to the present, when we’re driving down the highway, and I say, “I want to make risotto!” to my husband and my brother in the car – I don’t actually mean I want to make risotto, I mean that I want to eat risotto!

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty convinced that this dish is hard to make, fussy, and obviously not something that I can pull off.

But then my brother comes to town.

Nearly overhead closely cropped vertical image of two white bowls of carrot risotto, with minced parsley sprinkled on top for garnish, with a glass of white wine, a fork, a small dish of grated cheese, and a few whole carrots, on a dark and light blue cloth place mat, on top of a dark gray slate surface with a few scattered sprigs of fresh thyme.

The idea of cooking with other people may seem charming at first, but the truth is that not all cooks make good companions. You don’t have to share your kitchen many times before you come to realize this is true.

There are cooks who will come into your home and take over, leaving you stressed out and insecure, watching helplessly while they rearrange your spice rack. There are cooks who will second-guess you, who will comment on the weird way you hold the frosting bag before taking it out of your hands.

On the other hand, there are cooks like my brother. These are the kind who already know you so well that they are easy partners, whatever the project.

They come to visit and tell you about a risotto they made, and they make it seem so approachable and possible to achieve that before you know it, you’re standing with them over a pot of Arborio rice that’s cooking on your stove. You’re learning while you watch them, gaining confidence as you work together.

These cooks aren’t common, but when you’re blessed to find one, give thanks – these are the people you want to cook with.

Vertical image of a shallow white bowl of carrot risotto garnished with minced green parsley in the foreground, with another identical bowl and a glass of white wine in the background, and three whole carrots in a small pile on the gray slate surface, with a dark and light blue patterned place mat, against a gray backdrop.

Adam and I are making risotto together, frozen stock thawing on the stove, my hands pressing buttons on the food processor to shred carrots, his hands chopping parsley on the cutting board.

It’s not night yet, but the sky is darkening as storm clouds gather overhead. The kitchen seems to grow smaller and smaller as we lose the daylight, so he flips on the overhead bulb above the stove.

He stirs the risotto, moving a long wooden spoon steadily through the rice, wine, and carrots. I add stock half a cup at a time, letting it absorb between each addition, and it transforms the rice so it becomes soft, plump, and fragrant.

The two of us, who have been cooking together for as long as we’ve been cooking, work side by side throughout the entire process. We’re like four hands in a singular machine, the product of a lifetime of shared experiences, kitchens, and food.

It feels familiar, and reminds me of Sunday afternoons making pizza in his Chicago apartment, or weeknights spent baking cookies at Mom and Dad’s.

Vertical slightly oblique head-on shot of two shallow white bowls of homemade carrot risotto with a glass of white wine, with whole root vegetables in soft focus in the background, on a dark and light blue cloth place mat with a triangular geometric repeating pattern, on a dark gray slate surface.

Today, while we scoop ladles of risotto into bowls and sprinkle them with parsley and grated cheese, I think about how this person standing next to me has known me all his life.

I think about how nice it is to cook with him because he knows me, so I can say to him, “Keep your eye on this,” and know that he will. I can trust him to anticipate the next step, or to catch something I miss.

I can go to turn the pepper grinder just before we finish the dish and, when it releases half a jar of whole peppercorns instead of a light sprinkling of ground pepper, I can count on him to laugh with me even while we proceed to laboriously pick peppercorn after peppercorn out of the simmering food.

After the last bit of stock has been worked into the pot, we take our bowls to the brown leather sofa and plop down, side by side. We put our feet up and flip through movie trailers on the TV, and I feel so thankful for this brother who cooks with me.

Vertical shot of a forkful of carrot risotto, with two white bowls of the dish, a glass of white wine, and a small glass bowl of grated cheese in soft focus in the background, on a dark and light blue patterned place mat on top of a dark gray slate surface, with scattered thyme sprigs.

As we eat spoonful after spoonful of this meal we cooked together, the thing I feared and didn’t think I was capable of making in my own kitchen, I feel thankful.

I think the reason some people claim they hate making risotto, and the reason it seems like an intimidating dish to pull off at home for many people, all goes back to stirring.

Making risotto requires a lot of stirring. Like, twenty straight minutes of it. That’s why this is a great recipe to make with friends or family, so you can divvy up the chopping and stirring and other prep duties.

One bite into this risotto, you’ll know it was worth the effort.

Print
Vertical image of a white bowl of carrot risotto with a minced fresh herb garnish, on a gray slate surface with a dark and light blue patterned cloth, and a small glass dish of grated cheese and whole orange carrots in the background.

Carrot Risotto


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Creamy and filled with fresh herbs, this carrot risotto will go with with anything you want to cook this week.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, divided
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2.5 cups shredded carrots (approx. 11 1/4 lbs or 10 carrots)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino cheese, divided
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, cover, and keep at a simmer over low heat.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add carrots and stir with a wooden spoon until well coated. Add 1/2 cup warmed stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and honey.
  3. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until carrots are tender. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Transfer half of the carrots to a bowl and set aside. Puree the rest with 3/4 cup warmed stock in a food processor or blender.
  5. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat in the same pot that you caramelized the carrots in. Add the minced onion and thyme, and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add rice, and stir with a wooden spoon to coat completely.
  6. Stir in wine and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir until liquid has evaporated almost completely, about 5 minutes. Add carrot puree and stir occasionally until liquid is almost completely absorbed, about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Add 1/2 cup broth and stir frequently until liquid is almost completely absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  8. Repeat this process of adding stock and stirring often 4-5 times, until the rice is al dente. You may not need to use all of the stock.
  9. Fold in the reserved carrots, ricotta, 1/4 cup grated Pecorino, and 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Garnish with remaining parsley and Pecorino before serving.
  • Category: Risotto
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Side Dishes

Keywords: risotto, carrot, side dish

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Peel and shred the carrots. I did this by using the shredding disc on my food processor, but you could also add the peeled carrots to the bowl of a food processor and process on high until they are chopped and roughly uniform. A box grater will also work for this step.

Peel and mince half of a small onion, until you have about 1/3 cup total.

Overhead shot of a saucepan of chicken broth to the left of eleven small round and square dishes of butter, herbs, grated cheese, onion, salt, pepper, rice, and shredded carrots, honey, and white wine, on a gray slate surface.

Mince parsley leaves until you have 2 tablespoons total.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list. For the white wine, I recommend using a dry Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris to counter the sweetness of the carrots.

Place the chicken or vegetable stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cover and keep at a simmer, so it will be ready to go when you need it.

Step 2 – Cook

Add 2 tablespoons butter to a large heavy-bottomed saucepot over medium heat. Once it has melted, add the carrots, and stir to coat them well.

A small pile of salt is being stirred into shredded carrots with a wooden spoon, cooking in a large metal frying pan, on a dark gray slate surface.

Stir in 1/2 cup stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the honey until combined.

Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until carrots are tender. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are just starting to brown. This will take about 5-10 minutes.

A wooden spoon stirs shredded orange carrots in a large frying pan, on a slate surface.

Remove half of the carrots and place in a bowl. Set aside for later.

Step 3 – Puree

Place the remaining carrots into a food processor or countertop blender. Add 3/4 cup of the warmed stock and puree until smooth.

Overhead closely cropped horizontal shot of orange carrot puree in a food processor, on a dark gray slate surface.

Set aside.

Step 4 – Saute and Combine Ingredients

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter into the same pan you cooked the carrots in, and let it melt over medium heat.

Onions are being sauteed in butter in a large metal frying pan, on a gray slate surface.

Add the onion and thyme. Cook the onions until they are translucent, for about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally, and do not allow the onions to burn.

Horizontal closely cropped overhead shot of a frying pan of sauteed onions and herbs, with uncooked Arborio rice on top, on a dark gray slate surface.

Stir in the rice and continue to stir until it is coated well in the melted butter.

Rice coated in oil and mixed with sauteed onions and thyme is in a large metal frying pan, on a gray slate surface.

Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid has evaporated almost all the way. This will take about 5 minutes.

Rice cooks in an orange liquid in a large metal frying pan, with onions and thyme and a few flecks of carrot, on a dark gray slate surface.

Add the carrot puree and continue to cook until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. This will take another 3-5 minutes.

Step 5 – Cook Rice Through

Add stock in 1/2-cup increments, stirring frequently until the liquid is almost absorbed. This will take about 5 minutes. Be sure to use a wooden spoon to scrape up any flavorful browned bits or fond on the bottom of the pan.

Horizontal shot of a large metal frying pan of Arborio rice cooking in an orange liquid, with a few leaves of thyme floating on top, on a gray slate surface.

Repeat the process of adding stock and stirring often, adding more when the liquid has absorbed almost completely. You will make additional at least 4-5 times.

You will know that the rice is done when you give it a taste and it is al dente. Give it a taste when you think it’s getting close. If you need to add more broth to cook the rice through, that’s okay. You may not use all of the broth, and that’s okay as well.

Step 6 – Finish and Serve

Gently fold in the reserved carrots, ricotta, 1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese, and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.

Horizontal slightly oblique shot of a large frying pan with high walls, with a rice mixture at the bottom, topped with a dollop of ricotta and small piles of grated Pecorino, minced parsley, and shredded carrots, with a wooden spoon, on a dark gray slate surface.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Closely cropped horizontal overhead shot of home-cooked carrot risotto in a large frying pan, on a dark gray slate surface.

Garnish with additional parsley and grated Pecorino before serving.

A Dish with So Many Delicious Pairings

There are so many different kinds of main dishes that will pair beautifully with this carrot risotto.

You can go for lighter proteins like healthy grilled chicken or baked white fish.

Another option that I particularly like is pork chops or pork tenderloin, because the meat pairs well with the subtle sweetness of the carrots.

Horizontal head-on shot of two shallow white bowls of root vegetable risotto, a glass of white wine, and a dark and light blue cloth, with a small glass bowl of grated Pecorino cheese and whole carrots in the background, on a gray slate surface.

Do you need more ideas for making risotto? Here are some of our favorite recipes:

What main will you serve alongside this carrot risotto? Tell us in the comments below. Be sure to come back to rate the recipe once you try it as well!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on June 15, 2012. Last updated: March 17, 2019 at 8:24 am. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

37 thoughts on “Homemade Carrot Risotto Goes with Everything”

  1. I’m afraid of risotto, too. I’m actually not a huge fan of the stuff. I’ve had it at fancy Italian restaurants, where I figure they must know what they’re doing, and still don’t like it. But yours looks so comforting and happy (also, Shanna, these photos are so good!), and I love that you cooked it with your brother. Have a great weekend!

    • You’re nice. And I wish you could have seen me and Adam, standing under the hood of the front porch, his hands holding our giant bamboo cutting board topped with risotto, my hands aiming the camera right at it, all in an effort to get whatever light was left. There’s a real intimacy in being able to do that, I think, in addition to being able to cook with someone—an intimacy I know you and Murdo understand well when I’ve heard you talk about standing up on a chair at the table to get a shot.

      • Hi, This is so funny. I was just at bicyclette and thought the carrot risotto was amazing and was looking for a recipe and you were mentioning it was the highlight of your trip. Just went there last weekend and it lived up to expectations. Sandra

  2. This looks so tasty! I love carrots. If you can get hold of it, there’s an episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown discusses a method of making risotto that involves less stirring. I tried it last time I made risotto, and I had no extra sticking and no burning. It might be worth checking out if you enjoy the end result but avoid making risotto because of the effort (which I very much understand because OMG the Stirring. Never. Ends. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. I love that you were able to have a visit with your brother & even more I love that you have this special closeness. I have that same sort of relationship with my sister. It’s a beautiful thing, a gift from God.
    And I don’t think I’ve had risotto. But now I want it 🙂

    • I always wanted a sister! There’s something especially special about sisters, I think. BUT that said, my brother has been all the blessings of siblings wrapped into one, and you’re right: a true gift from God.

  4. Oh my gosh, I love making and eating risotto. It does require a lot of stirring but hey it’s like a fun way of getting an upper arm workout. Funny thing is now that I’ve made risotto I haven’t enjoyed it as much in resturants. For some reason mine turns out creamier.

  5. You’re very right – not everyone makes a good companion in the kitchen, and your choice of partner can definitely make the difference between a relaxing and stressed out night. I actually love making risotto! It’s all about stirring, which, compulsive stirrer that I am, usually means I can whip up a pretty good batch of risotto. I adore the color, and can only imagine how good this tastes with the carrots! Your relationship with your brother sounds like the kind of relationship I wish I had with my brother, if I had one 🙂

  6. As it turns out, risotto is probably my favorite thing in the world to make. I’m not sure I can even explain why, it’s just such a comforting, satisfying meal. It used to intimidate me, too, but one thing I love about risotto is the more you make it, the more it becomes effortless. You just know when it’s done, or when it needs more stock, and you can tell just by looking at it if the rice is perfectly suspended in its creamy sauce or needs a bit more attention. Lovely post today!

    • “the more you make it, the more it becomes effortless” – I need more hopeful statements like those in my life. I think I can tell what kind of cook you are, friend!

  7. Brava! I adore making risotto for the reason that most people don’t, I enjoy the stirring, it’s therapeutic for me … and I’ve yet to have made THE carrot risotto from our trip. I’ve decided to wait until my carrots from my garden are ready and then I will be too! xoxo

  8. We are on the same cooking track! I made my first risotto last week, after years of assuming it was clearly beyond me. Our recipe had spinach, asparagus and peas. I thawed homemade stock, too. So pleasant to cook and so amazing to eat! Yay for both of us. 🙂

    • Kelley, my long-lost friend, I so enjoy the idea of us both trying risotto, from different states and different kitchens, at around the same time. And yours had peas! I am still after one like that.

  9. That is so strange, we had plain arborio rice and carrots tonight and I told myself I needed to try risotto again… it’s meant to be, I must make your carrot risotto (giving myself a reasonable 2 week window!) I don’t know that I’ll be able to find a good cooking companion though… (it also makes me wonder which kind of cooking companion I am…?) I want a brother to cook with too!! 🙁 Thanks for this post, it was a wonderful read.

    • Ha, Helene, I think the very fact that you’d ask that question reveals a lot about what kind of cook you are (a good one!). And really, what makes a good companion is mostly about the intimacy you already share with them—so I say find a close friend you trust and try it. Thanks for your comment!

  10. i love the porch shot. i can’t even tell you that my whole family knows to wait to eat until the photo has been taken in the best light possible! 🙂 and carrots, oh carrots. i don’t like stirring. but i think i will make this, and think of you and your brother, and miss my brother who is halfway across the country, but we DO love to cook together. life is good!

  11. Shanna, your writing is pure poetry – I felt like I was right there with you and your brother, making this fabulous risotto! I have two boxes of Arborio rice in my cupboard and have always been too intimidated to attempt it but you’ve inspired me with this post.

  12. I am so blessed that my best friend and I are perfect cooking partners – she’s messy and cooks intuitively, while I am a clean-up-as-you-go kinda gal who is creative within reason. In the cooling days of winter, this carrot risotto will be a welcome visitor in my kitchen, thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. I just love your writing…. 🙂 My brother is a chef at Wegmans and is talented and patient and fun to be around… I hope to cook with him sometime soon, too — and yet I know what you mean about choosing who to try to cook with! So glad your risotto was a success, and thanks for another great recipe to try (for when I am brave).

  14. This is precious. One of my favorite posts of yours by far. Enhanced, of course, by the few minutes I got to spend with you and Adam. Reminds me of a post I wrote a couple of years ago about how risotto is like motherhood. Difficult, scary, better with a partner. Reading this and thinking of the two of you has made me quite happy.

  15. I love this post. I got teary-eyed; I could just feel the depth of your relationship and how comfortable you are together. So beautiful.

    And this meal looks incredible. I love fancy risotto. 😉

  16. I just stumbled upon your blog via a comment you left on La Porte Rouge…so glad I stumbled! What a beautiful, thoughtful, soulful blog. Can’t wait to peruse some more, and see new posts!

  17. Holy wow! This looks incredible. I wrote a post today about risotto and how much I love arborio rice for its versatility. This proves it. Thanks for this amazing recipe to add to the books!

  18. Risotto used to intimidate me too. I watched demonstrations on food network over and over again until I finally tried it, and now I’m one of those people who finds making risotto relaxing! haha
    Also I love your thoughts about kitchen partners…so true! There are definitely people I enjoy having in my kitchen and other people that I just need to get out!

  19. Risotto does take time, but don’t all things worth doing? 🙂 Carrot risotto — who’d have thought? Looks delish.

  20. Shannalee,

    I love your blog and your food and how whenever I think about some food I am tempted to try out in the kitchen, it just magically appears on one of my favorite blogs… Just a couple of days ago, I was watching a culinary show with risotto as the main hero in one of the episodes and all the time I kept thinking that I really don’t like risotto and have never seen one that I found appetizing (bland, white risotto only takes me back to my childhood days and a rice porridge my Mom would make for me when I was sick…:) And I kept thinking that… until I saw this post and your pictures. The next day, I was standing in my kitchen and though I didn’t have my favorite kitchen companion, the risotto turned out pretty well (I used Japanese rice – good substitute for arborio rice that is little hard to get in Japan). Making carrot puree, stirring the rice, waiting and – above all – looking at the beautiful color of the risotto made me feel calm and happy and grateful. Which is exactly how your posts make me feel.

    • Adrianna, I can’t decide which I love more: knowing that you found a substitute for risotto in Japanese rice and it still worked well, or knowing that you tried risotto, like I did, when you first felt you couldn’t. Lovely comment—thanks for leaving it!

  21. I feel risotto making is so comforting, and the possibilities are endless. Such a nice story of cooking with your brother, a bond you´ll share forever. How great.
    This risotto has a gorgeous color and the texture, extra creamy and with caramelized carrots. How clever to shred them and puree them. Great recipe

  22. This was so touching. It brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could experience that and actually reading this made me feel like I was in the kitchen with you. Beautifully written and a beautiful dish.

  23. You know, I was one of those bloggers who vowed to tackle this at home, but still haven’t gotten to it! Risotto doesn’t particularly scare me–but one must devote an entire afternoon to the project in order to make it properly (not sure how many rounds of broth/stirring/absorbing into rice you went through, but I bet it was substantial!). Your final product looks wonderful, though, creamy and colorful and very reminiscent of that dish we had at La Bicylette!

  24. Hi Shanna, I just wanted to share the fact that my 14 month old gobbled up this risotto like no tomorrow, to the very last grain of rice on his high chair table!! I adapted the recipe putting chicken stock with some lemon juice in it instead of the white wine. It worked out very well, still had that tanginess the wine adds.

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