Recently I was browsing through a little cookbook I’d been gifted, Risotto, published by Williams-Sonoma.
It’s a sweet, unassuming cookbook, only 119 pages, published in 2002. The first chapter covers classic risottos, and following chapters discuss vegetable, meat, seafood, and even dessert risottos. It’s a great cookbook, especially if you’re a risotto virgin.
For me, risotto has never been a big deal. The main reason is that I’ve never been fearful of cooking. It’s not because I’m fearless, it’s because I was naïve!
When I began cooking regularly 40 years ago, I had no idea that certain recipes might be complicated or challenging. I just dove in head first and started learning and cooking.
Not to say that risotto is hard to make, because it isn’t. But yes, you have to give it some attention. And it involves standing at the stove for about an hour.
I know “quick and easy” meals will always be popular, but anyone can make an outstanding and satisfying dish like this mushroom risotto.
In this W-S cookbook I saw a recipe for baked risotto-stuffed tomatoes, and with my ripe garden tomatoes and herbs, I knew that this would be a really nice side dish for some grilled chicken, white fish, or even steak.
And, you can even use leftover risotto for this dish, instead of making risotto first.
6 ripe but firm tomatoes, about 8 ounces each
Risotto, freshly prepared or leftover
1/4 cup fine dried bread crumbs
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
Chopped fresh parsley
Chopped fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8″ baking dish.
Cut the top off each tomato. With a small spoon, carefully scoop out the insides, leaving walls thick enough for the tomato to hold its shape.
Reserve the pulp.
Salt the inside of each tomato and turn them upside down on paper towels to drain for 5 minutes.
In a food processor, purée the tomato pulp until smooth. I used the processed pulp as part of my risotto liquid, and seasoned the risotto with dried sweet basil, salt, and white pepper.
The tomato purée added a lovely peachy hue to the risotto.
In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and garlic; set aside.
Put the tomatoes in the prepared dish and fill the tomatoes with the risotto, patting it down.
Cover the dish with foil and bake until the tomatoes are softened, about 25-30 minutes.
Remove the foil, and top the tomatoes with the bread crumb mixture.
Turn on the broiler and place the tomatoes 4″ from the heat source. Broil until the tops are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Serve at once.
I sprinkled chopped parsley and a chiffonade of basil over the top of these stuffed tomatoes.
Cutting open a tomato was a delight, with the risotto’s fragrance emanating from inside.
Just a little salt and some cayenne pepper… or not.
This was perfection. And just to make sure the risotto-stuffed tomato was really good, I had a second one. But they would make a lovely side dish!