Baby Bok Choy Risotto

Bok Choy Risotto

Inspired by Lidia Bastianich’s “Waste Not, Want Not” Lettuce Risotto where she uses the outer leaves of salad greens that would normally be thrown out (or composted) to make a beautiful creamy risotto, today’s recipe is yet another way to enjoy tender baby bok choy. Like Lidia, I hate wasting food and feel a great deal of accomplishment when I can muster a deliciously miraculous meal out of “nothing”. You know the familiar – “there’s nothing to eat in this house!”

I grew up in a household where nothing was wasted and what wasn’t eaten was composted to fertilize the garden that nourished our family. One of the things that come from eliminating processed foods from our diet is eliminating a tremendous amount of waste in the form of packaging! Anyway, one of the few cooking shows I catch now and then is  Lidia’s Italy in America  on Create TV where Lidia explores the food, artisans and ingredients at the heart of Italian-American cooking.  I love her no nonsense manner and the people she interviews that are keeping old-world traditions alive in America. I think Lidia and I must have had similar upbringings – only she grew up to be a celebrity chef  and matriarch of the Bastianich restaurant and wine empire, and I’m happy to learn from her.

Baby Bok Choy Risotto, lettuce risotto

Speaking of nothing in the refrigerator, I didn’t even have lettuce greens (Lidia used escarole and chickory on the show), but since I’ve been on a baby bok choy kick, I had a few remaining from when I made Roasted Bok Choy that needed using. A lot of people think making risotto is too much work, sure you have to stand over it and stir, but it really isn’t difficult to make and doesn’t take that long – 20 minutes while you’re chatting with your husband or overseeing the kids doing their homework and you’re done! Add a fresh green salad or sliced heirloom tomatoes with onion and you have a beautiful meal.

baby bok choy risotto

Use good quality wine. “A little for the pot, a little for the cook”, as Lidia says.

Baby Bok Choy Risotto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
You'll be amazed at how little butter and cheese is used in this creamy risotto brightened with bok choy.
Serves: 4 servings
  • 6 baby bok choy
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 quart low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
  • ½ cup finely grated, Comte cheese*
  1. Wash and slice the bok choy into ½ inch ribbons. Separate the leafy portion from the stems. You should have about 2 cups of leaves. Chop the stems (approx. 1 cup) and set aside.
  2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, saute the bok choy stems for 2 minutes, then add the shallots and cook for an another minute. Add the arborio rice and stir to coat with oil and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add the wine and cook until evaporated. Stir in 1 cup of warm stock and simmer, stirring occasionally. When the stock has been absorbed, add another cup and continue in this way until the mixture has cooked for about 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the bok choy leaves and more stock and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the grated cheese. Cover and serve immediately.
* Comte cheese is a delicious aged French cheese that is surprisingly low in sodium. Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano may be substituted, but they are higher in sodium.


baby bok choy risotto, lettuce risotto

Here are some tips on risotto from Lidia:

The Basics of Risotto

The Liquid Used – Some people are surprised to learn that you can make risotto with plain water. Of course you can, since the chemical processes are the same whatever liquid you use. If you have broth of any kind, and you want its particular flavor in your dish, use it. It will impart more flavor, but simple water will do.

The Aromatics – Onions, cooked properly, provide a fine sweet base of flavor for simple risotto, but greater and more complex flavors will come if you add chopped leeks, shallots, and scallions. Shallots have a strong initial flavor but they mellow during cooking and they completely disappear in the risotto. Leek pieces will not disappear, but they add lovely flavor, as do scallions. You can add up to 2 cups of leeks, scallions, or shallots to the pan, after the onions have started to sweat and wilt. But all moisture should be cooked out of them before toasting the rice. For each additional cup of onions, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

The Amount of Liquid – There’s no set amount, but a general guideline for liquid is three and a half times the amount of rice; the liquid, whether water or stock, should be hot and ready on the stove. The amount of liquid needed may vary because it will evaporate at different rates in different pans and with different heat intensities. What is important is to add liquid until you have produced a risotto with the texture you like.

The Finishing Touches – It is important to understand that both olive oil and butter have the amalgamating property — bringing everything together texturally — that is always needed as a “finish” for risotto (this process, to cook until creamy, is referred to as mantecare in Italian). Many people mistakenly think that butter (and lots of it) is always required as the finish, to make risotto creamy. (And some chefs whip in butter to give risotto creaminess when it wasn’t developed through proper cooking technique.) But our basic recipe shows that you develop the creaminess by the slow release of starch and proper cooking. Olive oil at the end adds a nice complexity that does not alter the essential flavor of the risotto: it is a clean, pristine finish. I like to use olive oil as a finish for fish risotti and some vegetable risotti, because it leaves the clean flavors of the fish and vegetables pure and vibrant.

Butter, on the other hand, is a marvelous liaison: it makes the risotto even creamier and buttery. I use it with all meat or mushroom and some vegetable risotti. The butter makes the dish rich and creamy, magnifying and to some extent altering the flavor. This can be desirable, and there are many risotti in which I love to use it. {Source: CBS News}

How to Make Risotto, Tips on Making Risotto

8 Responses to “Baby Bok Choy Risotto”

  1. Alice D'Antoni Phillips May 6 at 11:37 am #

    Love the waste not, want not concept…grew up like that in rural mountains of Appalachia and it’s a wonderful legacy!

  2. RavieNomNoms May 7 at 8:30 am #

    LOVELY recipe! I love risotto and bok choy!

  3. Yes, we were a “no-waste” household too… I think when your parents grew up during the Depression it got drilled into you. This looks lovely… I will have to check out Comte cheese when/if I get cleared to eat cheese again (migraine diet) but otherwise I can definitely do this recipe! Yum.

  4. shockinglydelicious May 8 at 1:55 pm #

    Wonderful! Must try!

  5. Jade Asian Greens May 8 at 2:00 pm #

    We’ve never thought of using baby bok choy in risotto. How culinarily creative of you! We’re going to link here and show all our Facebook fans how you did it, and we’re also pinning it to our brand new Pinterest board, called Bloggers Best Greens Recipes. You can see it here:

  6. I need to make risotto more often, such a perfect side dish, or main dish! Your addition of bok Choy is so healthy and delicious! Yum, Hugs, Terra

  7. Beth S September 23 at 8:10 am #

    in the ingredients you call for scallions but in the directions you speak to scallions. Which should be used? one the other or both?

    • Priscilla September 23 at 9:03 am #

      Hi Beth – it should be shallots. No scallions were used, but you could if you prefer. Thanks for pointing that out.

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