Thank you to Geoff Braterman for this guest blog and recipe.
I love risotto, and I find it very satisfying to cook. You can be very creative with risotto, as the rice is able to absorb all manner of flavour combinations. There are only two secrets to a successful risotto recipe. The first is keeping the liquid ingredients warm in a separate pan (if you added cold liquid to cooking risotto rice it may be under-cooked) and the second is to keep stirring whilst the rice is cooking until it has absorbed all the liquid and has reached the consistency that you want.
Notes on ingredients
1. It really doesn’t matter if you use shallots or onions. I prefer shallots for a slightly sweeter, mellower flavour, which contrasts well with the tartness of the tomatoes.
2. Some tomato risotto recipes call for peeled tomatoes. I tend not to bother because the texture of the tomato skin, together with the slightly squashed tomatoes works well. But, if you would rather have peeled tomatoes, the best way to peel them is to gently score the skin of each tomato all the way round, put in a bowl and pour boiled water over them. Drain and rinse in cold water after 10 mins and then peeling is easy.
3. It doesn’t really matter what kind of tomatoes you use, but I’d avoid using the cheapest tomatoes if you can – they just don’t have the flavour of premium varieties. I like using cherry tomatoes and halving them, but you could chop plum tomatoes. Just to give some colour contrast (this dish is very red!) I like using a yellow or golden variety.
4. If you don’t have passatta or sugocasa, you could use 500ml tomato juice instead. In which case, add a tablespoon of concentrated tomato puree to the stock/tomato juice mixture.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 – 4 shallots (or half a medium onion) finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
500 ml (18 fl oz) passatta or sugocasa
500 ml good quality vegetable or vegan stock (I use Swiss Marigold bullion)
200 g (7 oz) risotto rice, such as arborio
125 ml red wine (4 ½ fl oz)
250 g (8 oz) cherry tomatoes, halved (or plum totamoes roughly chopped)
A handful of fresh torn basil leaves
To garnish: a few fresh basil leaves
To serve: 50 g (1¾ oz) Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
How to Cook
Prep: 10 mins |Cook: 30 mins
1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan. Add the onions or shallots and garlic and sauté gently for 10 minutes, or until they are softened but not coloured.
2. Put the tomato juice and stock in another pan and bring it to simmering point.
3. Add the rice to the onions and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until all the grains of rice are coated with the oil.
4. Add the wine and stir until this has become absorbed with the rice.
5. Add a small ladle of tomato juice to the rice mixture and stir continuously until all the juice has been absorbed. Repeat, stirring after each ladle of juice has been added, and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes until the rice is an al dente consistency, adding more water if necessary.
6. Stir tomatoes and basil leaves into the rice and season to taste. Cook gently for a further 5 minutes, stirring and slightly squashing the tomatoes.
7. Add about half of the Parmesan and stir until it becomes absorbed.
8. Serve garnished with basil and pass the Parmesan cheese separately.
Serves: 4 as a starter or light lunch, 2 for a main meal