7 Additions That Make Risotto a Complete Meal

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A big bowl of risotto always satisfies my need for some creamy goodness. Yet as comforting as it is, it’s not always the most well-rounded choice for dinner, given that it’s basically just white rice and it’s often missing the protein that makes it feel hearty and satisfying.

Luckily, since risotto is really a blank slate for just about any ingredient, it’s easy enough to add something to it to make it more of a complete meal. Here are seven great additions to try.

1. Roasted Shrimp

Not only does a pile of roasted shrimp add a touch of fanciness to risotto, but it’s also the ultimate last-minute addition, since it takes no more than a few minutes to cook. Roast it just before the risotto is done and then top each individual bowl with a handful of shrimp.

2. Beans

The best thing about this addition is that you probably already have it on hand. Pull out that can that’s lingering in the back of your pantry — creamy white beans are my top choice here, but nutty chickpeas are a close second. Drain and rinse the beans then stir them in during the last 10 minutes of cooking your risotto. They’ll warm up, soak up some flavor, and lend an extra-hearty texture to the pan.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

3. Crispy Chicken Thighs

A crispy, skillet-cooked chicken thigh on top of a bowl of risotto most definitely makes it a hearty meal. While sliced chicken breast works too, the crackly skin from a chicken thigh is a wonderful contrast to the creamy risotto.

4. Cooked Sausage

Before you get your risotto going, brown crumbled sausage in the pan or cook up a couple of your favorite links. Then transfer the sausage to a plate to keep warm while you go ahead and make the risotto. Then, just before serving, stir in the cooked crumbled sausage or serve bowls with a sliced link on top.

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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

5. Fried or Poached Eggs

An egg on top of just about anything makes it more of a complete meal. Either a fried or a poached egg is a winning addition, so pick your favorite. Just slide either one of top of your bowl of risotto — cutting into the runny yolk will add even more creaminess to the rice.

6. Ricotta

Add more cheese to risotto, you ask? Yes! Instead of stirring ricotta in, leave it aside and then add a generous dollop to each bowl so that it makes its own statement. Ricotta lends more creaminess while adding just the right amount of protein to make risotto feel like more of a complete meal.

7. Seared Scallops

Top risotto with a few seared scallops and it’s instantly dinner-party material — or just a surefire way to impress someone. Buttery, tender scallops are quick and simple to make yet feel extra special.

What do you add to your risotto to make it a complete meal?

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