Blueberry Risotto with Blueberry Relish

Northern California's blueberry season is just getting started and it looks like it will be a great year for the berry. Although the fruit is most commonly enjoyed in desserts, its savory possibilities are endless and delicious.

Photo Credit: Gina Jordan

If you have an option, use Legacy blueberries in this voluptuous risotto. Legacy berries have brighter floral top notes. They also have more acidity than other varieties, making them ideal in savory dishes. Vialone Nano is one of three Italian short-grain rices used in risotto. It is the most delicate and the creamiest and it is my default choice. Next best is Carnaroli. The most common, Arborio, is the driest and least interesting of the three.

  • Serves 3 to 4
  • Prep Time: 15 Min
  • Cook Time: 30 Min


  • 3 cups blueberries, rinsed
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, and cut into small dice
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • White pepper in a mill
  • Several pinches of ground clove
  • Sugar, as needed
  • ⅓ cup Thai basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups Vialone Nano or Carnaroli rice
  • 5 cups homemade chicken broth or stock
  • 3 tablespoons creme fraiche


  1. First, make the Blueberry Relish. To do so, set aside half the blueberries. Put the remaining blueberries into a small saucepan, along with the diced pear, half the ginger, the apple cider vinegar, half the shallots, and half the lemon juice. Season with salt and several turns of white pepper. Add a pinch or two of ground clove. Set over low heat until the berries soften. Remove from the heat, taste, and, if the relish is a bit flat, add a bit of sugar and a pinch more salt. Stir, cool to room temperature, stir in half the basil, cover, and set aside.

  2. Put the butter and olive oil into a wide deep pan, such as a saucier, and set over medium low heat. Add the remaining shallot and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 7 to 8 minutes. Do not let it brown.

  3. Add the rice, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until each grain is milky white, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add half the remaining blueberries and stir. Reduce the heat to medium, add 1/2 cup of the stock and stir until it is absorbed by the rice. Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is just tender, about 18 minutes. (If stock runs low, add water.) When there is about 3/4 cup of stock remaining, fold in the remaining blueberries.

  4. Add half the remaining stock, stir and taste; correct for salt and pepper. Add the remaining blueberries and the last of the stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the creme fraiche and remove from the heat. At this point, the risotto should be loose but not too soupy. If necessary, thin with a little hot broth or water.

  5. Ladle the risotto into soup plates. Top each portion with a dollop of the relish and a bit of the remaining basil. Enjoy right away

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