I had a bunch of tomatoes, from the weekend’s farmer’s market, from the CSA, and a few stragglers from my garden that escaped the blight, but I just couldn’t get inspired by the thought of making a big batch of pasta sauce. So I did the next best thing, a light, delicious, summery risotto with fresh tomatoes and the zing of garden mint. This one’s a keeper!
Adapted from Fresh Tomato Risotto in The New Basics by J. Rosso and S. Lukins
Summer Tomato Risotto with Mint
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 and 1/4 cups Arborio rice
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 3/4 lb ripe plum tomatoes (or other meaty tomato), cored and diced to 1/4-inch
- 2 tbsp minced fresh mint (loosely packed), plus slivers for garnish (about 6 sprigs)
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- pinch nutmeg, or to taste
- grated hard cheese (I used Sprout Creek’s Bogart) for serving
- Heat chicken stock in a covered medium saucepan until it is simmering; maintain at a simmer, but do not boil.
- In a small stockpot or large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until it is shimmering; add rice, stirring constantly, and cook for one minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of the hot stock to the rice, stirring constantly. Allow the rice/stock mixture to cook at a lively simmer, but stir very frequently to prevent sticking. The pace of cooking is key: cook too quickly, and the stock will boil off before the rice can absorb it, but cook too slowly and the rice becomes mushy and glutinous instead of al dente. Within 3 – 5 minutes, the stock should be mostly absorbed and you should need to add more to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Add additional stock, in 1/2 cup increments, stirring between additions and letting the rice absorb almost all of the stock before adding more. Keep the stock, in it’s separate pan, at a low simmer throughout (cover if necessary).
- When you’re down to the last 1/2 cup of stock to be added, add the tomatoes, mint and basil and stir well. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to release their juices; stir constantly, and when the tomato juice is nearly all absorbed, add the last 1/2 cup of stock. Cook, stirring, until the stock is mostly absorbed. Add pepper and nutmeg and taste. Adjust seasonings and/or add more liquid (wine, stock, water, milk or cream) and continue cooking if the rice is still too al dente.
- When it looks and tastes good to you, serve immediately, garnished with slivered mint and grated cheese.
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer.
- Tomatoes and basil are the classic combination, and indeed, the orginal recipe did not include mint, but called for 2 – 3 tbsp of fresh minced basil. Certainly, that would be tasty, but I wanted to mix it up a bit, and I have tons of mint on hand. I like the surprise and the sweet/spicy addition of the mint.
- You could winterize this recipe by using dried tomatoes, either packed in oil or reconstituted with boiling water or stock. Use dried basil, mint, oregano or a combination. For a heartier winter version, I might add sliced, browned Italian sausage. Yum.
Best eaten immediately; but leftovers make great risotto cakes.