Tomato and Basil Risotto
Martha Rose Shulman
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 1 hour
7 cups well seasoned Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup minced Onion
Salt to taste
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 lb Tomatoes, grated
Pinch of Sugar
1 tsp fresh Thyme Leaves
1 ½ cups Arborio Rice
Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste
½ cup dry white or Rosé wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc (I used Summer Sip Rosé)
½ lb additional sweet ripe Tomatoes, finely diced
¼ cup slivered fresh Basil
¼ to ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
What a recipe this is! I bought all my ingredients, including the fresh tomatoes and Basil from my local Big Y produce department and it was so amazing. So fresh and so colorful and if you had to describe the perfect taste of summer, aside from fresh fruit, this is it. Tomatoes and basil, the ultimate Summer flavor combination.
Risotto is not like cooking rice, nor should you expect it to cook like rice. It’s a process, and can be time consuming. You DO NOT add water, or stock or whatever you’re using for liquid and walk away and twenty minutes later you have risotto. Risotto needs to be watched and cooked, step by step. It’s super easy and super delicious, you just have to be patient and not rush it.
The first step is the most important. Heat up your broth. I used chicken stock. Because you use a lot of stock, I bought the concentrate packages and added water. For good measure and extra flavor, I added a couple chicken bouillon cubes. And, I had a few extra cups of broth ready cause it’s a better bet you’re going to need more. The recipe called for 7 cups of stock, I had closer to 10 cups ready to go. Heat the stock until it’s simmering. The secret to great risotto is hot broth. It works with the starches in the Arborio rice and makes it not only cook faster, but also makes it creamier. Cold broth or room temperature broth is not recommended.
Wasting no time, while the broth is warming up to simmer, it was time to chop, dice and cut all the ingredients. Your Big Y produce department is full of the freshest fruits and vegetables. For those of you that remember, I froze the leftover Thyme that I had from the Pot Roast Braised with Merlot. I pulled it out of the freezer and was ready to go. No need to discard unused Thyme. It freezes perfectly.
The tomatoes grate perfectly on any grater. You will end up with a handful of tomato skins once you get as close to the grater as you can. No problem. I just chopped them up and tossed them in the grated tomatoes.
All of the vegetables and basil are grated, chopped and diced and the chicken stock is simmering. It’s risotto time.
Add the olive oil to a pan and let it get hot. Add the onions and salt and let them cook until tender. Recipe says 5 minutes, I tend to let them go a bit longer until they start to brown to get more of a roasted flavor out of them. Add salt and stir often enough so they don’t completely burn.
Once they’re at the point that I like them with a roasted flavor, it’s time to add the arborio rice and garlic. Cook until the rice starts to brown and look toasted, without burning them. Don’t burn. Browning is perfectly fine.
Once the risotto is browned, the garlic will also start to brown, which is fine, it’s extra roasted flavor, it’s time to add the grated tomatoes, sugar, fresh thyme and salt to taste, I also added some pepper. Stir the mixture together and stir often. You want to see the tomatoes cook down a bit and stick to the rice. Recipe says 5 to 10 minutes which is accurate. The mixture will start to look mushy and browned. Looks can be deceiving. It’s nowhere near done.
First liquid to add is the Rosé. 1/2 cup is enough. Pour it over the rice and stir it together. Let it simmer a bit until the Rosé just about cooks out. The Rosé will give the risotto an ever slight hint of Rosé without being aggressive. You certainly can add more. It just needs to cook down and absorb before adding the stock.
Once the Rosé has just about cooked out, it’s time to start the step by step process of adding the stock. And that’s it, a process. Don’t rush it, don’t over stir it, just add your stock like the recipe says, stir it and let it cook down, keep repeating until all of the stock is used… EXCEPT for one cup of stock. I saved one cup for the very end.
That’s it. Have extra stock on hand if you need it. Make sure to warm it. It’s OK to sample the Risotto to see if it’s done. It will look creamy and it will be one very short step away from al denté. Any crunch to it, or firmness means it’s not ready and needs more liquid. I added stock one ladle at a time about 6 to 8 times. It was done in about 40 minutes. When it was the right texture and doneness for me, I added the last cup of chicken stock, turned off the stove and stirred the stock in. I did this cause rice/risotto/grains like to absorb liquid. I added the final cup so it would have just a little extra liquid so when it was in the fridge overnight waiting to be the next night’s leftovers, it would still have a bit of liquid to it rather than all being absorbed.
This recipe turned out better than I expected. It was pretty much Summer on a plate. I served it with teriyaki steak tips from the Big Y Butcher Shop.
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