Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tomato-Basil Risotto with Roasted Red Pepper

To download a copy of the recipe for Tomato-Basil Risotto with Roasted Red Pepper, click HERE.

I recently had the good fortune of attending a gathering of friends who love to cook. Some are professionals, some devoted home cooks; all contributed their talents (and, being human, no doubt a bit of competitive spirit too) to a spread of good food more expansive than any banquet I could imagine. One of the many great dishes there was a delicious shrimp risotto that reminded me of two things: that I really love risotto, and that it has been far too long since I’ve made it. Today’s recipe corrects that.

Risotto, for anyone not familiar, is a rich and highly addictive rice dish with a unique, al dente yet creamy texture. That texture, without which risotto is just not risotto, comes from the fact that it is made from any of several special short-grain rices that readily absorb liquid and release starch, instead of the long-grain rice used in most other rice dishes. The other essential part is the constant stirring (and occasional agitation of the pan itself) necessary for the rice to release its starch. Once started, the preparation of risotto is not usually something you can walk away from to let cook on its own. (For that reason, good mise en place – having everything measured, chopped, etc., before you start – is especially important here.) If you give the preparation the attention it deserves, you – and your family or guests - will be amply rewarded.

Within the basic risotto structure - rice, onion, garlic, oil or butter, wine and parmesan – many treatments are possible, This recipe is for Tomato-Basil Risotto with Roasted Red Pepper. It’s shown in the photo above topped with cornmeal-crusted codfish nuggets and surrounded by marinated grilled zucchini and yellow squash. (The fish is based on a recipe posted here previously; if you’d like a copy of that recipe, just let me know and I’ll be happy to send it. The grilled, marinated vegetables are from a recipe published by Bobby Flay in his “Grilling for Life” cookbook. It generally consists of grilling the vegetables, then marinating them.)

Hope you enjoy this take on an Italian classic! This recipe makes four servings.

Begin by warming 4 cups of vegetable broth in a saucepan over low heat.

While the broth is warming, roast a red bell pepper on the stove burner. After the entire skin is blackened, wrap the pepper in foil and set aside to steam in its own moisture. When it has cooled enough to handle, cut the roasted pepper into small pieces and set aside.

At this point, you’ll want to check your e-mails, go to the rest room, or do anything else you might otherwise be tempted to do while the risotto is cooking. The Risotto Show is about to start, and it’s performed with no intermissions!

Put 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté the one small onion and 4 garlic cloves, all finely chopped, over medium heat. (I used a red onion just because it was what I had on hand, but any preferred kind of onion will work.)

When they are cooked through, add one cup of Arborio rice (not regular long-grain rice!) and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly to coat the rice lightly in the oil.

Add ¾ cup of dry white wine (Chardonnay or similar) to the sauté pan and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Add ¼ cup of chopped, fresh basil and 1 Tbsp of fresh thyme.

Immediately after, add the broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring occasionally and waiting till the liquid is absorbed before adding more.

When all the broth is absorbed, add a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (very well drained but not rinsed) and the roasted red pepper. Cook long enough to heat through.

Add ½ cup of fresh grated parmesan.

Stir until combined, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

To download a copy of the recipe for Tomato-Basil Risotto with Roasted Red Pepper, click HERE.

Enjoy! And please come back next week for another delicious, family-friendly recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. NOM! i'm out of class next week and plan on cooking for the rest of the summer!


  2. Excellent, Alaina. :-) Let me know what kinds of things you decide to make!

  3. I love risotto, but never eat it anymore. Tomato-basil is a great flavor combo though. I'll try this for a special occasion sometime.

  4. Thanks, Sandy. While I usually try to reduce the fat in recipes, every once in a while I find something where it does not seem possible. Whipped cream is one. Risotto is another. Thank goodness for those special occasions!