If you don't have time for standing at the stove stirring, this baked risotto is for you! With chunks of tender chicken, sweet balsamic roasted tomatoes and leafy baby spinach, it comes together in the oven for a comforting bowl that feels like no work at all.
baby spinach leaves
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan-forced. Finely chop the garlic (or use a garlic press). Thinly slice the brown onion. Cut the chicken thigh into 2cm chunks. Zest the lemon to get a pinch then cut into wedges. Grate the Parmesan cheese.
In a large frying pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over a high heat. Add the onion and chicken and cook until the chicken is golden, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, lemon zest and arborio rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the water, the salt and crumbled chicken stock (1 1/2 cubes for 2 people / 3 cubes for 4 people). Bring to the boil and cook, stirring, until combined, 2 minutes.
Transfer the risotto to a medium baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake until the rice is tender and the water has absorbed, 24-28 minutes. Stir through a splash of water if the risotto looks dry.
While the risotto is baking, place the cherry tomatoes on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Add the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and a generous drizzle of olive oil and toss to coat. Roast until tender and caramelised, 18-20 minutes.
Pick and thinly slice the basil leaves (reserve some whole leaves for garnish). Remove the baking dish from the oven and stir through the butter and grated Parmesan cheese until melted. Stir in the sliced basil and baby spinach leaves until just wilted. Add the caramelised cherry tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon juice and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. TIP: Seasoning is key in this dish, so add more lemon juice, salt or pepper if you think it needs it!
Divide the baked chicken and caramelised cherry tomato risotto between bowls. Top with reserved basil leaves and serve with any remaining lemon wedges.