Vegan Tomato Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

You just can't beat a risotto in the cold winter months. This creamy dish takes a bit longer with preparation, but it always pays off in the end. 

I remember the first time I had a tomato-based risotto. I was 29 years old and I was eating dinner in a restaurant with a group of work friends while attending a conference in New Orleans. We somehow ended up in a restaurant that didn't have a single vegetarian dish on the menu. I explained my dilemma to the server, and he spoke with the chef who offered to make me an off-menu creation - a tomato risotto with roasted vegetables.

This particular recipe features roasted vegetables and is cooked low and slow with a tomato puree base that results in a main dish that's rich and creamy. And it's the closest I've come to that dish that the New Orleans' chef made for me years ago. While your vegetarian and vegan friends will love it, you can also serve it to your gluten-free friends too. So, it checks a lot of boxes.

Vegan Tomato Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

1 Tbsp. olive oil

10 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved

2 medium red bell peppers, chopped

1 large zucchini, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste


1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup Arborio rice

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 cup of canned tomato puree or tomato sauce

2 cups vegetable stock, heated to a low simmer and kept warm

6.7 oz. sundried tomato pesto, oil drained

1 tsp. basil

salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and add the olive oil to a large cookie sheet.
  2. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Chop bell peppers and zucchini into small similar-sized pieces and spread out on the cookie sheet. Add salt and pepper and gently toss together in oil.
  3. Roast vegetables for 30 minutes.
  4. Add vegetable stock to a saucepan, bring to a gentle simmer, and keep warm over a low heat.
  5. Dice onions and add olive oil to a large sauté pan.
  6. Sauté the onion on a low-medium heat for a few minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  7. Stir in the Arborio rice and balsamic vinegar and stir for approximately 30 seconds.
  8. Alternate adding the tomato puree and warm vegetable stock 1/2-cup at a time. Allow each 1/2-cup of liquid to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next.
  9. After all liquid is absorbed, add in the sundried tomato pesto and the roasted vegetables. Give everything a stir and cook for a further 5 minutes until everything is cooked through and the rice is done. Make sure to taste the rice at this step to ensure that the rice is cooked to desired doneness. If the rice is still chewy at this step, add in more tomato puree or more vegetable stock 1/2-cup at a time until desired doneness.
  10. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil, salt, and pepper. 


If you've never made risotto the old-fashioned way before, remember to add in the liquids a half-cup at a time and stir until completely absorbed before adding in the next batch of liquids. This will help the Arborio rice to release its starch and gives the dish its signature creamy texture. 

While you might be inclined to crank up the heat to "speed up the process" this will only make the liquid evaporate more quickly, which isn't the goal. The goal is for it to be absorbed into the rice. If it evaporates, you'll be left with crunchy risotto. So, make sure you cook it over low-medium heat.

You can substitute 6 sundried tomatoes (diced) for the sundried tomato pesto, if desired.

Garnish with vegan Parmesan cheese alternative, if desired. If your family is not vegan (we have two vegetarians in our family, but no vegans), then feel free to garnish with Parmesan cheese before serving. 

If you're a fan of risotto, take a peek at this recipe too:

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