Here’s yet another way to use our basic Quick Tomato Sauce! This buttery rice dish reminds me of my Mum’s cooking. Her family came from near Biella, from the Piedmont, the old Kingdom of Savoy. With their French and Italian heritage, they had no problem using butter in their cooking. In fact, Mum used to make all her pasta sauces and risottos using butter. In this Tomato Risotto I have replaced some of the butter with olive oil, but if you want to make this dish without any butter at all, it’s OK — just leave it out at step 4. Remember, risotto should have an overall creamy consistency; it shouldn’t be too dry and the rice should be al dente, chewy but definitely not mushy. In the winter, instead of using fresh basil you can use 1 teaspoon of minced rosemary, adding it to the oil in step 1, along with the onions.
1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan or wok (I always use a wok for risotto). Add the onion and sauté until it softens and becomes translucent and slightly golden. Do not burn it. This will take about 7-10 minutes. If the onion appears to be cooking too quickly, turn the heat down a little.
2. Add the rice to the onions and fry, stirring until you hear the rice clicking against the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine to the pan. Cook, stirring, until all the wine has been absorbed.
3. Add the tomato sauce and 1 ladle of the warm stock to the rice and onions. Cook, stirring until the liquid is nearly absorbed. The rice shouldn’t get completely dry. Add 2 more ladles of the warm stock to the rice and cook, stirring, until it is nearly all absorbed. Repeat until the rice is nearly cooked. It should have a lot of bite but have lost any chalky texture.
4. Add the rest of the stock to the rice. Beat the butter and Parmesan into the rice until it looks creamy. Check for seasoning. Stir in the basil leaves and cover the risotto tightly. Remove it from the heat and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.
5. Remove the lid. If the risotto seems dry, stir in a little more warm stock or water to get the right creamy consistency. Serve warm.
Ann’s Tips and Tricks
If you like, for a dish with more protein and a pretty look, too, add 1/2 a cup of frozen peas or lima beans along with the stock at the start of step 4.
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