Easy Vacation Recipe: Microwave Risotto

Easy Vacation Recipe: Microwave Risotto

Don’t let vacation meal planning put a strain on your wallet or add unnecessary stress to your travel plans. As long as your home away from home is equipped with a mini- or full-size refrigerator, a microwave and a sink, there are plenty of easy meals to make on vacation.

Use these tips to make the most of your minimalist hotel kitchen — and your budget — without sacrificing flavor.

Easy Vacation Meal Planning Tips for Hotel Room Cooking


1. Invest in Stock.

Microwave cooking can leave food dehydrated. Keep a carton of ready-to-use chicken or vegetable stock on hand to lend moisture and flavor to your meals. Add a splash before zapping restaurant leftovers or prepared foods, or use it to cook something from scratch, like a simple risotto.

2. Put a Lid on It.

You can never have too many reusable, microwave-safe food containers — even on vacation — so put these on the top of your grocery list to pick up upon arrival. They’re great for shaking up salads, portioning out snacks, reheating takeout and cooking mess-free microwave meals. Look for 2-cup containers with volume indicator lines to double as makeshift measuring cups.

3. Become a Seasoned Traveler.

Easy vacation meals don’t have to be bland. Look for shortcuts like pre-minced garlic and grated cheese to add flavor to your microwave creations. Many supermarkets sell affordable, high-quality salt and pepper with grinders built into their packaging — but you can also pick up free packets from the grocery store’s eat-in area or a rest stop. Look for blends of herbs and spices commonly used together, rather than shelling out for individual ingredients. And don’t forget to ask your hotel if it provides condiments like hot sauce and ketchup.

Once you have these pantry staples, it’s easy to create tasty vacation food that won’t break the bank. Try this single-serving microwave risotto, which is creamy, decadent and worthy of a night in.

Easy Travel Meal Recipe: Microwave Risotto with Tender Pea Shoots

Download Recipe


1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic from a jar

½ cup arborio or carnaroli rice

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons dry white wine



2-3 tablespoons pea shoots, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

Grated parmesan cheese


Microwave-safe mug or reusable food container


Small saucer, plastic wrap or lid (optional)

Hand towel or oven mitt

Hotel Recipe Ingredients

Tip: If you’re worried about not having measuring cups and spoons, don’t be. You can eyeball the cup measurements and use disposable plastic cutlery; just remember that disposable spoons hold about one-third the volume of traditional tablespoons, so triple the measurements above. After you’re finished measuring the ingredients, place those that could potentially spoil (like butter and cheese ) in your hotel’s mini refrigerator.


1. Add butter and olive oil to a microwave-safe mug or reusable food container. Microwave on high for 30 seconds.

2. Stir in garlic. (If using fresh garlic, reduce to one big clove because it’s more powerful.) Microwave 30 seconds.

3. Next, add the risotto rice. In a standard 12-ounce mug, the rice should fill slightly more than a third. If using a microwaveable container, refer to volume markings on the side. Stir until rice is evenly coated. Microwave 30 seconds, stir, then zap 30 seconds further.

Hotel Recipe Step 3

4. Now begin adding stock. Start with ¼ cup — enough to cover the rice. Stir, then microwave 30 seconds. Remove and stir vigorously for 30 seconds; the rice will continue to absorb stock as you stir.

Hotel Recipe Step 5

5. Stir in ¼ cup of additional liquid, so the rice is covered. Zap 30 seconds, stir 30 seconds, then repeat before adding the next ¼ cup of stock. Continue alternating between cooking and stirring for two sets of 30-second intervals, repeating with the remaining ¼ cup of stock.

6. Add wine and adjust seasoning to taste, then microwave for a final 30 seconds. Carefully stir in a few big pinches of pea shoots and parmesan, then allow risotto to rest, covered, for at least 2 minutes. Garnish with more parmesan and pea shoots.

Hotel Recipe Step 6

This recipe is ideal for solo travelers or couples. To make a cozy dinner for two, double the ingredients and cooking time: Microwave both cups of risotto at once for 60-second intervals until the rice has absorbed most of the broth. Don’t forget to stir. For groups of four, make two doubled batches, microwaving two risotto cups at a time, or, if your hotel room comes equipped with a kitchen, check out Easy Meals for Group Getaways.

Final Touches

If cooking this dish in a mug, you may wish to loosely cover with plastic wrap or a small saucer to prevent splatters and spills. Take care when removing items from the microwave, as steam can be very hot. Always protect your hands with oven mitts or a thick hand towel — like the spare in your hotel bathroom — when handling hot items.

Once you let it cool for a minute, grab your spoon and dive into this delicious, filling and super easy-to-make travel dish.

Note: Cooking times may vary by microwave power. The times provided above suit a 1,000-watt microwave.


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About the Author

Lindsay Burgess is a Montreal-based writer specializing in food, drink and travel. She’s the former digital editor of Foodism Toronto magazine, and her writing has been published by Food & Wine, The Globe and Mail and Tales of the Cocktail. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram @lindsburge.