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Monday, October 25, 2021

Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto



Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto

Adapted from:  RIVER COTTAGE VEG by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Serves 4

5-6 cups vegetable stock (homemade is best) or a combination of stock and water
1 generous T butter (20 g)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 c (250g) Arborio rice
3/4-1 c roasted tomato sauce, see recipe below, or equivalent amount of a prepared pasta sauce
salt and pepper
1 ball of buffalo mozzarella (about 4 oz or 125g) torn or cut into chunks

 In a 2-3 quart saucepan, heat the vegetable stock until it simmers. Keep it hot.

In the meantime, place large saucepan or medium Dutch-oven over medium-low heat and melt the butter. Add the onion and stir until coated. Sweat until soft, about 10 minutes depending on your stovetop. Stir in the rice and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once the rice has begun to look translucent around the edges start to add the hot stock a cup or cup and a half at a time. Stir often, especially right after you add the initial stock, so you encourage the formation of starch in the rice. As each addition of stock is absorbed, add another cup or so, stir a little and let cook until until liquid is absorbed. After 20-25 minutes, the rice should be cooked with just a hint of chalkiness in the middle (in my high altitude, this time is longer since the boiling point is lower). 

Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until all is thoroughly heated. I like this a bit runny with generous amounts of tomato sauce. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Add the mozzarella and cover. Let it sit for a minute and stir lightly to break up the melting mozzarella. Don't be too vigorous in stirring because you should have some melty bits of the cheese within the risotto. 

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a handful of arugula on the side, if you like. If you prefer, top with a chiffonade of basil or some chopped oregano.

For meat eaters, you can top with some cooked bacon, crumbled. Or stir some into the risotto. The cheese can be left out if you prefer. 

Roasted Tomato Sauce (yields about 2 cups)

3-4 pounds (1.5-2kg) ripe tomatoes, larger ones halved
3 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
a few sprigs thyme
couple springs of marjoram (optional)
2 T olive oil or vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350F (180C). Place the tomatoes, cut side up on a baking sheet and sprinkle the garlic and herbs over the top. Drizzle the oil over the top and season to your preference with the salt and pepper.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for an hour or more until the tomatoes and soft and beginning to caramelize on the top. 

Allow the tomatoes to cool for approximately 30 minutes. Pour them into a large sieve over a bowl and rub the pulp through. Discard the skins and seeds.

Or alternatively, just use a blender, stick or conventional, to blend through the tomatoes. You'll still have tiny bits of skin and seeds but they don't bother me much. You'll have a much larger yield. 

Note: You can use crushed tomatoes from a can but you might need to use more seasoning and herbs to supplement flavor.

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