Dining In 1 minute 27 October 2022

Recipe: Risotto al Basilico From Gia in Toronto

Gia chef Francesco Spinelli's risotto al basilico is an earthy, cheesy, autumnal dish that utilizes seasonal vegetables. Here's how to make it.

You could have a full dinner at narrow hotspot Gia in Trinity Bellwoods and not even realize that everything is meatless. Such is the charm of Jennifer Coburn’s latest, plant-forward restaurant, which replaces her previous spot, Ufficio. High ceilings, exposed white brick, herringbone floors and a constantly packed dining room make for a stylish night out. Unable to land a reservation? Try making chef Francesco Spinelli's risotto al basilico.

Risotto al basilico


  • 80g Carnaroli risotto rice
  • 1L Vegetable stock
  • 200g water
  • 1 Lemon zest
  • 1 Lime zest
  • 50g lemon juice
  • 50g lime juice
  • 200g basil
  • Seasonal vegetables of your choice (in this case we used the following): 3 cherry tomatoes; 1 zucchini, carrot, fennel, broccolini, mushrooms
  • 50g unsalted butter or vegan butter
  • 30g Parmesan or vegan parmesan
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste


  • Marinate the vegetables.
  • Prepare a marinade with 200g water, juice and zest of lemon, lime, salt and pepper. Finely slice the vegetables and soak them for 20 minutes.
  • Blanch the basil in boiling water for 3 minutes. Then transfer it to cool in ice water. After, drain and blend for 1 minute to create a cream-like texture.
  • Heat a large pan over medium heat. Then add the risotto and toast for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt. Little by little, add hot vegetable stock until rice is cooked (15-20 minutes). Continually stir.
    Remove from the heat and stir in a tablespoon of butter, parmesan and basil cream, continuously stirring until the risotto is creamy.
  • Serve on a large plate and finish with the marinated vegetables

Chef tip: Dehydrated black olives are great to add. Grate them over the risotto for extra flavour. This dish can be entirely vegan with substituted vegan butter.

To drink: Gia's signature cocktail Dundas West: bourbon, averna, campari, and angostura.

Photos: Gia chef Francesco Spinelli's risotto al basilico
© Justine Nelson/Gia

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