I am guilt ridden. If you have read my about me page, you will see that I have been known to bash the risotto. (If you haven’t seen it, do.) But I don’t mean it arborio! Can you forgive me carnaroli? There are two meanings to ‘risotto’ for me. The first, the type you get in a restaurant, sludgy and salty, marking you out as the ‘awkward one’; the second…well, that is gooey grains of gorgeousness! And that is what we have here. This is not a risotto made to punish you for not eating meat, this is one to make you sing from your foodie soul!
Who doesn’t love that ménage à trois of mozzarella, basil and tomatoes? Well imagine the mozzarella melting around the rice, bringing it all together, and the tomatoes oven roasted in butter, just ready to pop and burst their beautiful juices to cut through the cheesy goo. Delish.
INGREDIENTS (serves 2):
250g cherry tomatoes – halved or whole
Drizzle olive oil
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red onion, diced
175g risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
Glass of white wine
Stock, from cube or homemade – make up about a small pan’s worth (it needs to be in a pan, as it should be kept simmering)
150g mozzarella cheese, chopped into big cubes
Handful of basil, chopped
First, sort out your tomatoes: toss them in a dish with a drizzle of oil, knobs of butter and lashings of salt and pepper, then slide the dish in the oven at at gas 5 / 190 degrees Celsius, and leave roast for about 30 minutes.
Whilst they are in the oven…
Heat your oil and fry your onion and, added slightly later, your garlic until soft.
Add the rice and stir to coat the grains, cooking the rice until translucent, a minute or two.
Add your wine and stir.
Once the wine has all but gone, start adding your simmering stock, ladle by ladle as the rice takes in the liquid – this is not a quick process, but keep it slow, over a lowish heat, stirring often (but not religiously).
Once the rice starts to resemble risotto and the grains taste chalky, but have some softness, add the mozzarella and basil and stir through, and continue cooking until the rice is perfect (the best way to tell is, as ever, to taste it).
Once ready, label into a dish and top with your now-roasted tomatoes.
Serve with salad and bread.
Lurking at the back left of my little window box is a new herb! It is Greek Basil, and being the classics geek that I am, I could not resist this meeting of worlds with Greek basil in an Italian dish (made all the more complex and delicious by the root of the word ‘basil’ actually coming from the ancient Greek for ‘king’)! So excited was I to incorporate this new herb into my dish that I actually made my risotto almost half an hour before my dinner partner was even due to arrive…that is what mixing food and classics does to a girl like me. I lost my head.