Pesto Risotto, Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas – Vegan & Gluten-Free

Bowl of risotto toppped with roasted cherry tomatoes and chickpeas which are covered in Everything Spice

Bursting with flavor, this creamy vegan pesto risotto is the best kind of comfort food – quick, easy and delicious! Topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and chickpeas covered in Everything Spice, make the risotto on the stove-top or in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker for a fuss-free complete meal.

Thank you to Stahlbush Island Farms for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Ingredients for the pesto risotto with chickpeas and tomatoes laid out on a marble countertop

What is Risotto?

Risotto is a classic Italian dish usually made with rice, hot soup stock and some aromatics like onions and garlic. It’s often made with a type of starchy short grained rice called arborio, although there’s a few other short grain Italian rice varieties out there like carnaroli. They aren’t as readily available in our local stores, but I’ve heard they make an even dreamier risotto!

The Truth About Cooking Risotto

If you’ve heard the same risotto myths as I had (that it’s really hard to make, takes ages, and will leave your arm really sore from constantly stirring) then you need to read this: risotto is really easy to make. It takes 6 minutes in a pressure cooker/Instant Pot and you don’t need to stir constantly!

As the rice cooks in the soup stock, it slowly releases its starches which creates that creamy texture. Essentially take everything you know about cooking rice (like rinsing it, cooking in cold water to start, not stirring, etc), and do the exact opposite when making risotto. We don’t rinse off the starch, it’s what makes the risotto creamy after all! Adding cold soup stock can cause the starches to seize and become hard and gluey, and the rice won’t cook evenly. Not a good situation. So, if you’re cooking it on the stove-top, it’s well worth the small effort to have your broth hot in a separate covered pot ready to go.

Pesto risotto in a large white skillet
Roasted chickpeas and cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet

On the stove-top, risotto takes 15-20 minutes with occasional slow stirring. Not too intimidating, right? And it’s one of the coziest meals out there, really customizable and pretty economical. In fact, it’s one of my go-to meals on busy weeknights, but is just as perfect as a fancier meal when serving guests.

Serve Immediately!

Keep in mind that risotto tends to seize up and thicken if it sits for a bit so it’s best served immediately. I don’t mind it thickened or having leftovers, but it really is nicer served while it’s still saucy and creamy. If it does start to thicken too much before you serve it, add in a few tablespoons of hot broth to loosen the starches up.

2 bowls of risotto topped with roasted tomatoes and chickpeas

How Do You Make Risotto in An Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker?

Cooking risotto in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot is a dream and my preferred way of making it on really busy nights.

  • Sauté the onion and garlic,
  • Toss in the rice to toast,
  • Add in the broth,
  • Set to high pressure for 6 minutes, do a quick release and
  • Stir in the pesto, spinach, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice.

It really doesn’t get much easier for any meal. I find that the quality is pretty comparable to the stove-top method, too.

How Do You Make Risotto on the Stove?

Making risotto on the stove is also pretty simple!

  • Sauté the onion and garlic,
  • Toss in the rice and toast,
  • Add in the hot broth a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring at each addition,
  • Repeat adding in broth and stirring each time for 15-20 minutes,
  • Stir in the pesto, spinach, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice.

Tips for Perfect Vegan Pesto Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes and Spiced Chickpeas

  • Whether you’re making this on the stove or in the Instant Pot, start off with preheating your oven and getting the tomatoes roasting. They need about 25 minutes. So get those ready, then move onto the risotto.
  • If you haven’t had roasted chickpeas before you’re in for a treat! I used Stahlbush Island Farms frozen chickpeas. They are perfect for roasting because they’re firm and not sold in brine. If you chose to use canned chickpeas, drain them and rub them with a paper towel before tossing them with oil so they crisp more. Add the chickpeas to the baking sheet for the last 15 minutes of roasting the tomatoes. If you like really crispy chickpeas, roast them on a separate baking sheet so they don’t come in contact with any of the tomato juices and let them roast an extra few minutes.
  • If you’re using an Instant Pot, get your ingredients prepped then go relax until about 10 minutes before the tomatoes are ready. As mentioned, risotto doesn’t like to sit around after cooking – it’s best served right away.
  • If you’re making it on the stove-top, start the risotto as soon as you have the tomatoes in the oven and make sure your broth is hot.
  • Add the pesto and spinach once the risotto is cooked. Waiting until the end helps preserve the basil flavors and ensure your pesto and spinach remain a pretty bright green.

More Easy Comforting Meals:

Vegan Cauliflower Gyros

One-Skillet Baked Greek Lemon Rice and Chickpeas

Red Lentil and Cauliflower Dal

Easy Vegan Mexican Rice Casserole

If you make this Pesto Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes and Spiced Chickpeas, please give it a rating in the recipe card or let me know in the comments! I love connecting on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes. You can also follow me on Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for reading along!

Close up view of a bowl of pesto risotto topped with roasted tomatoes and chickpeas

Creamy Pesto Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Spiced Chickpeas

Bursting with flavor, this creamy pesto risotto is the best kind of comfort food – quick, easy and delicious. Topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and chickpeas covered in Everything Spice, make the risotto on the stove-top or in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker for a fuss-free meal.
4.83 from 17 votes
Print Pin
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Vegan
Keyword: Easy Vegan Dinner, Gluten free Vegan, Instant Pot Risotto
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 439kcal
Author: Bronwyn


For the Roasted Tomatoes:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes

For the Chickpeas:

For the Risotto:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 3 1/2 cups vegan soup stock if using Instant Pot/Pressure cooker, plus more for thinning as desired use 6-7 cups** for the stove-top option
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup vegan pesto
  • 3 cups baby spinach


For the Roasted Tomatoes and Chickpeas:

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes on the baking sheet, toss in olive oil and spread out in a single layer. If some are much larger than others, cut the larger ones in half but leave cut side up.
  • Roast for 10 minutes while you prepare the chickpeas. Toss the chickpeas, the olive oil and Everything Spice together in a small bowl. Once the tomatoes have been in the oven 10 minutes, remove the tray from the oven. Gently toss the tomatoes and make room on one section of the pan for the chickpeas. Place the chickpeas in a single layer on the baking sheet and return it to the oven. Roast for another 15 minutes. If you like really crispy chickpeas, roast them on a separate baking sheet and increase roasting time to 20 minutes.

For the Risotto – Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker Method:

  • Set the Instant Pot to sauté. Heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, cooking for 30 seconds. Stir in the rice, toast for a minute then add in the soup stock and stir. Cover and select the manual setting. Cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.
  • At the end of the cooking, release the steam with Quick Release, carefully take off the cover and stir in the pesto, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan. Stir in the spinach allowing it to wilt a bit. Stir again, taste and season as desired, and add more hot stock if necessary – it should be creamy. Serve immediately in wide soup bowls or on plates, topped with the roasted cherry tomatoes and spiced chickpeas.

For the Risotto – Stove-top Method:

  • Pour soup stock into a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer, reduce heat to low and cover with a lid.
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy skillet or pot. Add the onion and sauté until it is soft and translucent but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
  • Stir in rice, and cook for a minute or so until it crackles and smells a bit toasty. Deglaze the pan with a ladle of soup stock. Stir until it is mostly absorbed, scraping the bottom to remove any stuck bits. Begin adding the hot soup stock, about 1/2 cup at a time. Cook, stirring often, until the stock nearly absorbed. Ladle in another 1/2 cup of the stock and continue to cook this way, adding more stock and stirring when rice is almost dry, about 15-20 minutes. The rice should be cooked al dente but not mushy. Constant stirring isn't necessary, but stir often to prevent sticking and to monitor when to add more stock. Turn off the heat.
  • Stir in pesto, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan. Stir in the spinach allowing it to wilt a bit. Stir again, taste and season as desired, and add more stock if necessary – it should be creamy. Serve immediately in wide soup bowls or on plates, topped with the roasted cherry tomatoes and spiced chickpeas.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 439kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 791mg | Potassium: 528mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2194IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 4mg


*Everything Spice is a spice blend containing dried garlic, onion, black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds and coarse salt. It’s available in most grocery stores in the spice section.
**use sodium-reduced soup stock for the stove-top option so the final risotto isn’t too salty.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @crumbs.and.caramel on Instagram!

The Nutrition Information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the Nutrition Information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

Post may contain affiliate links which means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may make a very small percentage in commission on qualifying purchases.  There’s never any extra cost to you, and I only link to products I actually use and enjoy.  Thank you for your support!

This recipe was first published on Crumbs & Caramel September 06, 2019. The post was updated on June 26, 2020 with improved educational value and fresh images.

15 thoughts on “Pesto Risotto, Roasted Tomatoes & Chickpeas – Vegan & Gluten-Free

  1. Favorite vegan recipe so far! This is the first recipe I’ve tried since going vegan that doesn’t feel like it’s “missing something.” The ultimate comfort food!

    1. I am so happy you enjoyed it! I’m even happier that it was so satisfying – this is always my goal as I advocate for veganism via recipe sharing so it’s so nice to hear it hit the mark. You made my day, thank you! 🙂 ~Bronwyn

    1. Hi Nadine! The nutritional info is an estimate per serving. This will vary depending on how accurate the reader’s measurements are, the oil/salt content of the pesto and soup stock they use etc. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions! ~Bronwyn

  2. This is so delicious I made it last week and I’m already craving it again. I’m curious if you have any recommendations for a substitute to the pesto. I went to the grocery stores and could find every ingredient except vegan pesto! Made me wonder if this could go well with any other “sauce”.

    1. Thank you for you kind comment, Marie! I’m so happy you’ve enjoyed this recipe! To your question: you could try making some pesto if you can’t find any? Pesto can be made with basil, but also cilantro, parsley, and other greens and even dried basil if the herb section at your local market is sparse. Other ideas…sun-dried tomato pestos are sometimes accidentally vegan and should be tasty here. I often make this risotto without any other sauce, too and just up the garlic…maybe adding in some seared mushrooms first, a tsp or so of dried basil, lemon zest and lots of pepper and nooch. Have fun with it and let me know how it goes! Thanks again, Bronwyn 🙂

    1. Hi Candice! It’s the seasoning used on Everything Bagels. Several brands sell it, some like Trader Joes call it “Everything but the Bagel Spice”. If you can’t find it in stores, there’s lots of recipes for it online. It keeps well and is delicious on so many things! It typically contains poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt. ~Bronwyn

  3. This was absolute delicious. It was my first time making risotto and it turned out great. I halved the recipe since it just for my partner and I, and I didn’t have Everything Seasoning so I improvised with other spices to give the chickpeas a kick. The combination of flavors is absolutely lovely, and I’m grateful for another recipe that I hope to use for a long long time.

  4. This was a fabulous dish that took risotto, which I make often, to another level. I made my own everything spice, which is so easy to do – and way less expensive, and roasted the chickpeas, which I skinned (ok, a little more work, bit kind of zen) longer until they were really crisp but not burnt ( maybe 25 minutes). I would eat this any day with a smile on my face. Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Hi Vivian, thank you for this thoughtful comment and awesome feedback! I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe 🙂 Love that you skinned the chickpeas for some extra crunch! Thanks again! ~ Bronwyn

  5. This looks amazing, can’t wait to try it! Quick question: if I were to halve the recipe for 3 portions, how many grams or rice and ml of stock would I use for the stove top option?

    1. Hi Prin! Thanks for your interest in the recipe 🙂 If you’d like to change to portion sizes, click on the number of servings and you can enter 3 there. The recipe card will then do the math for you and populate the ingredient amounts. When I typed in 3 servings, I got 150 g arborio rice and 438 mL soup stock. Give it a try to modify the other ingredients, too. Let me know how you get on and I hope you enjoy the risotto! ~Bronwyn

  6. I made this today and it was soooo good! I had no idea how sweet and succulent the roasted tomatoes would be – and the chickpeas were also delicious. I didn’t put pesto in my risotto but subbed zhoug instead. I’m sure it would be great with pesto but I had the zhoug on hand and that worked out great. Thanks for the recipe! I’ve pinned it and I’ll make it again.

    1. Hi Anne! I’m so happy you enjoyed the risotto and made it work with what you had on hand. Zhoug sounds like a delicious addition! Thanks for taking the time to let me know and for pinning the recipe! 🙂 ~ Bronwyn

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