This vegetable risotto is smooth and creamy, making it perfect for babies and kids. It is packed full of vegetables but you would never know as most of them dissolve right into the dish. Great for picky eaters that don’t like seeing veggies in their food!
I have always loved risotto and made it all the time when I was younger, it was my go to comfort food. When my eldest was born, I still continued to make it often. When he started eating with us I crammed in as many vegetables that I could and started used home-made stock to reduce the sodium levels.
This vegetable risotto is easy to make but does require time and attention. The smooth, creamy texture is definitely worth it though and I’m sure your kids will think so too.
Risotto Cooking Tips
RICE – The key to a good risotto is they type of rice used. It needs to be an Italian variety that has the correct starches to produces a creamy texture when cooked. Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli are the most common varieties. I usually use Arborio because it is the easiest to find here. Don’t be tempted to use a variety that doesn’t have enough starch, you will not achieve the same creamy result.
Because the starch is so valuable when making risotto, never rinse the rice before cooking.
You need to toast the rice before adding the stock. It will slowly change colour and becomes shinier. You only need to do this for a couple of minutes. If you do it for too long the rice will get too hot and will lock in the starch
STOCK – Risotto is basically rice cooked in stock (broth) so ideally, you want to use a tasty one. I recommend using a home made vegetable or chicken stock. I know it sounds like a lot of effort but it is actually really easy to make and it freezes well. This way you can control the sodium levels.
Commercial stock is often high in sodium and not suitable for babies and children. You can buy low salt / baby stock cubes but I was never keen on the flavour they produced. That being said, when I used them the boys never complained. Another option would be using a reduced sodium stock and water it down.
Always use hot stock and add it to the rice 1-2 ladles at a time, only adding more when the rice has absorbed the stock. The image above (step 4 & 5) illustrates this.
This vegetable risotto is a great dish that can easily be adapted to suit whatever you have in the fridge. Just use the method below but substitute the vegetables with what your kid likes / or you fancy that day. I grated and finely chopped the vegetables and they pretty much disintegrated into the dish. I feel you can pack in extra veggies when you do that.
If you love this dish then why not try turning it into baked arancini, where the vegetable risotto is cooled and formed into balls before coating in breadcrumbs and baking.
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Sundried Tomato and Vegetable Risotto
- 1 tbsp oil
- 10g butter
- 1 onion - finely chopped
- 1 Celery Stalk, finely chopped
- 1 carrot - grated *SEE NOTE 1
- 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1 zucchini (courgette) grated *SEE NOTE 1
- 45g 4 sun dried tomatoes - finely chopped
- 250g (1 1/2 cups) risotto rice *SEE NOTE 2
- 1.5 litres (6 cups) Stock (broth), hot. *SEE NOTE 4
- 55g (1/2 cup) peas
- 55g parmesan cheese *SEE NOTE 5
- Heat the oil and butter in a pan, add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic, and fry on a low heat for about 5 mins.
- Add the zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes and fry for a further 5 mins. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
- Continually stir the rice for about a minute until the rice starts to look a little transparent.
- Turn down the heat and add a ladle of hot stock and continue to stir. Once absorbed add another ladle of stock and keep stirring. Continue adding the stock, a ladle at a time, until the rice is cooked (soft with a slight bite) *SEE NOTE 6
- Add the peas and stir through.
- Remove from the heat and add the parmesan cheese. Cover and allow to sit for a couple of minutes before serving.
- I grate the vegetables so I can cram in a ton of vegetables. They basically dissolve into the dish. If you have a fussy eater you may wish to peel the zucchini before grating so there are no green flecks. You can also chop the grated vegetables to make them even smaller.
- Make sure to use an Italian variety of rice. Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli are the most common varieties. Never pre-rinse the rice.
- The stock you use makes a big difference to this dish. You want to use a tasty one. I recommend making your own. Make sure to use low sodium or homemade stock if making for babies and young children, making your own stock allows you to control the sodium levels. The stock should be HOT when you add it to the rice.
- Parmesan cheese will increase the sodium level so this is optional. You can easily miss it out if serving a baby / young child. I always buy a block of parmesan and freshly grate it. Alternatively, you could use grated parmesan from the chill section. Don't use the ambient cheese you can buy in the pasta aisle, it will greatly change the taste!
- You know the rice is cooked when you can press a grain between your fingers and the white in the middle breaks. If the germ is still hard, the risotto isn't cooked.
This recipe was published in Dec 2013 but updated with cooking tips and new photos in Jan 2018.