Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Now tomatoes are getting at their best again, this is a delicious risotto recipe to take full advantage!

Based on a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes” cookbook.

The Tomato Sauce
I only slightly tweaked Hugh’s version for the tomato sauce by adding more garlic and balsamic vinegar to accommodate personal preferences.

  • 2kg / 4.5lbs ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and black pepper
    IMG_3013
    1. Preheat the oven to 180C/355F. In the meantime, place the tomatoes – cut side up – on a tin foil lined baking tray. Scatter over the garlic, thyme, oil and balsamic vinegar and season well with salt and pepper
    IMG_3015
    2. Put the baking tray in the oven for about an hour or so until the tomatoes have become a bit mushy and the top is just starting to caramelise

    IMG_3016
    3. Take the tray from the oven and let the tomatoes cool. Add all the tomatoes and juices to a fine sieve and push them through the sieve with a wooden spoon, discarding the skins and pips. Alternatively, you can put everything in the food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes until very fine

The Risotto
I followed the recipe for the risotto to the letter as I was very curious on how the liquid-to-rice ratio would work out with the last-minute addition of the tomato sauce and what its impact would on the consistency of the risotto itself. No worries there, it was spot on.

  • 750ml / 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 large knob butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 250g  /9oz. risotto rice
  • 200ml / 7 floz. tomato sauce (see above)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 ball buffalo mozzarella (125g / 4.5oz), in 1cm cubes
  • Rocket leaves, to finish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to finish
  1. Put the stock into a saucepan, bring to and keep at gentle simmer
  2. In the meantime, heat the butter in a heavy based pan over a medium-low heat. When the butter is foaming, add the onion and sweat until soft (8 to 10 minutes)
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more
  4. Then add the rice and toast the rice for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally
  5. Start adding the hot stock about a quarter at a time. Let the risotto cook, stirring often, adding more stock when almost fully absorbed
  6. After 20 to 25 minutes, the rice should be cooked “al dente”. As you reach that stage, add the tomato sauce, stir through and cook everything for a few minutes until piping hot
  7. Season well with salt and pepper, add the mozzarella cubes and cover the pan for a minute, then stir the melting mozzarella through the risotto, so you’ll get lots of cheese strings
  8. Serve immediately and finish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and the rocket leaves

    IMG_3018

What worked and what didn’t:
We really liked the simple and straight forward flavours of this risotto which went well together with the punch from the rocket leaves. From a textural point of view, the use of the tomato sauce automatically turns risotto relatively “wet”, but that is not bad at all. It’s ooziness combined with the melting mozzarella cheese cubes (that are a nice change from the regular parmesan) makes this true comfort food! The risotto was so good that there was not even time for the mozzarella to set and become chewy. 😀

Recipe accuracy:
This recipe is accurate and serves 4 persons. It does take a more prep time than a regular risotto due to the oven roasting the tomatoes, but it will beat almost any passata that you can buy in the supermarket! As you only need part of the tomato sauce recipe, you will have enough left to incorporate in other dishes or put it the freezer for future use. The tomato sauce recipe yielded about 950ml (1 quart) of which you only need 200ml (7 floz) for the risotto.

Suggested tweaks:
No things that didn’t work in this dish, but the general feeling was that it would benefit from a last-minute addition of shredded fresh basil.

Verdict: 9/10; it will definitely be made again.

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