Eggplant risotto is a tasty, fulfilling, and easy meal made with tomato, eggplant, and risotto rice.
You can make this dish in just over 30 minutes and serve it for a delicious and comforting family dinner.
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Comforting, nutritious, and packed with flavor, this eggplant risotto is the perfect family dinner when you feel like something cozy and with Italian flavors.
The recipe is very easy to make. The risotto is cooked in one pot with onion, garlic, tomato puree, diced eggplant, and vegetable broth.
We add fresh basil leaves, (vegan) parmesan cheese, and (vegan) butter to complete the dish.
In fact, you can easily make vegan eggplant risotto by substituting vegan cheese and butter for their dairy-based alternatives.
The result is a creamy and comforting dish that is so tasty you’ll want to eat it straight out of the pot.
Try to find Carnaroli, Arborio, Vialone Nano, Baldo, or Roma rice to make risotto. They all do an excellent job at keeping al dente while creating a creamy texture, thanks to their high content of starch.
If you can’t find those varieties, look for something that says “risotto rice” on the package.
We use globe eggplant for this recipe. Italian eggplant and zebra eggplant work well too.
We use canned or bottled tomato puree, sometimes called passata, if imported from Italy.
Olive oil + Garlic + Onion
This risotto recipe starts with a flavor base made with finely chopped onion and garlic gently fried in olive oil.
Vegetable broth, homemade or store-bought, is the liquid of choice to cook this eggplant risotto.
Important: when making risotto, add the vegetable broth slowly, and keep it simmering gently throughout the recipe. Because of that, at least one cup will evaporate, so you must make enough. In our recipe, we keep this into account in the quantities.
We use dried oregano and fresh basil. Combined with tomato and eggplant, they create an unmistakably Italian flavor.
Parmesan cheese adds plenty of umami and flavor to this dish. Whether vegetarian or vegan, you can easily replace parm with a vegan cheese alternative. We do this all the time, and the risotto turns out delicious.
Butter makes the tomato risotto rich and gives it that velvety mouth feel. However, replacing the butter with a plant-based alternative is easy if you are vegan. For example, you can choose vegan butter or high-quality margarine without hydrogenated fats (trans fat) and palm oil.
Alternatively, add good quality extra virgin olive oil to replace the butter.
Note: traditionally, risotto is made with white wine to add acidity to the rice and boost the dish’s flavor. Eggplant risotto, however, should not have white wine because the tomato sauce is already acidic.
Wash and dry the eggplant, then cut it into ¼-inch (0.6 cm) dice. You can keep the peel on or remove some of it.
Add the vegetable stock to a pot and bring it to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and keep the broth hot throughout the recipe.
Gently fry the finely chopped onion in a large skillet with olive oil for 3 minutes, then add finely chopped garlic and fry for 2 more minutes.
Note: the skillet needs to be quite large and big enough to contain the rice (which will double in volume), the tomato puree, and the eggplant.
Add the risotto rice, and stir on medium heat for 2 minutes until translucent.
Add 2 ladlefuls of vegetable broth, tomato puree, and diced eggplant to the pan. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano, and stir well.
Cook the eggplant risotto on a gentle simmer until al dente (15 to 20 minutes), stirring almost continuously, adding 2 ladlefuls of vegetable broth at a time as soon as the previous broth is absorbed.
When the rice is al dente, turn the heat off and add fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese, and butter, or their vegan alternatives.
Stir for 2 minutes with the heat off until the cheese and butter melt completely, and the eggplant risotto is very creamy.
Add an extra ladleful of vegetable broth if necessary; the risotto shouldn’t be too thick or too runny.
Plate the risotto and serve with some extra basil leaves, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or some extra cheese on top.
Add extra greens to your meal by pairing the risotto with one of these 25 best sides for risotto.
Removing the eggplant allows you to make a delicious tomato risotto for a simple yet fulfilling everyday dinner. Check out our tomato risotto recipe.
How to use risotto leftovers
Have risotto leftovers? Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Then, you can either reheat risotto in the microwave for 2 minutes or make one of these incredible dishes:
Italian Rice Balls
Italian rice balls are one of the best meals made with leftover risotto. Shape the leftover risotto rice into small balls, coat them in breadcrumbs, deep-fry them or air-fry them, and serve them with our homemade marinara sauce.
This is a delicious recipe you can serve as an appetizer or dinner with a simple side salad.
Risotto Cakes with salad
Risotto cakes are so delicious! Take the risotto leftovers and shape them into burger-like patties, then bread them with breadcrumbs and shallow-fry or air-fry.
This is an incredible way to recycle leftover eggplant risotto, and kids will go nuts over this recipe. It’s too good!
Italian Riso al Salto
Riso al Salto, meaning jumped rice in Italian, is a large rice cake made of leftover risotto cooked very slowly in a pan with butter or oil until the rice gets super crispy.
This recipe is popular in Milan, Italy, and has become a gourmet meal. Check out our riso al salto recipe.
Supplì is a famous leftover risotto recipe from Rome and the central regions of Italy.
Oval-shaped balls of risotto rice, stuffed with melty mozzarella or vegan cheese and deep-fried to perfection. This recipe is a little more technical to make but still impossibly delicious. Check out our supplì recipe.
Store leftover eggplant risotto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes. Not suitable for freezing.
More Eggplant Recipes
If you love cooking with eggplant, try these vibrant Italian eggplant recipes:
- Fried eggplant prepared in two ways
- Sauteed eggplant in a hearty tomato sauce
- Stuffed eggplant boats with fresh tomatoes
- Eggplant soup with air fryer croutons
- Roasted eggplant with Italian salsa verde
- Eggplant pizza with marinara sauce
- Italian Breaded eggplant with fresh herbs
- Pasta alla Norma with tender cubes of eggplant
Or get more inspiration from these 35 best eggplant recipes, including pasta, salads, and side dishes.
For many more starter ideas, check out our starters category page.
- 1 large skillet that can fit rice, eggplant, and tomato sauce, considering the rice will double in volume
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 cups risotto rice arborio or carnaroli variety
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 24 ouces tomato passata
- 1 large eggplant cut in 1/4-inch dice
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 15 leaves basil
- 2 tablespoons butter or vegan butter
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese or vegan cheese
- Wash and dry the eggplant, then cut it into ¼-inch (0.6 cm) dice. You can keep the peel on or remove some of it.
- Add the vegetable stock to a pot and bring it to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and keep the broth hot throughout the recipe.Gently fry the finely chopped onion in a large skillet with olive oil for 3 minutes, then add finely chopped garlic and fry for 2 more minutes.
- Add the risotto rice, and stir on medium heat for 2 minutes until translucent.
- Add 2 ladlefuls of vegetable broth, tomato puree, and diced eggplant to the pan. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano, and stir well.
- Cook the eggplant risotto on a gentle simmer until al dente (15 to 20 minutes), stirring almost continuously, adding 2 ladlefuls of vegetable broth at a time as soon as the previous broth is absorbed.
- When the rice is al dente, turn the heat off and add fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese, and butter, or their vegan alternatives.
- Stir for 2 minutes with the heat off until the cheese and butter melt completely, and the eggplant risotto is very creamy.Add an extra ladleful of vegetable broth if necessary; the risotto shouldn't be too thick or too runny.
- Plate the risotto and serve with some extra basil leaves, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or some extra cheese on top.
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