Ever since my trip to the Po Valley with Riso Gallo to understand more about how rice and other grains are produced in Italy, I have been obsessed with perfecting my risotto-making technique. During our visit, we ate in some truly memorable restaurants, sampling different grains and flavours of risotto, a particular highlight being a very simple aged-risotto grain, cooked with olive oil, butter and Parmesan cheese and adored with spring truffles. Since then, making a risotto has become a weekly activity – in part prompted by the fact that all three of our children unanimously love risotto and so it’s one of the few meals that doesn’t have to be messed around with too much or customised three different ways. Of all the risotto recipe I have tried, this one, found in Gennaro Contaldo’s Fast Cook Italian is our winner – it is a Risotto Caprese – based on the flavours of the classic Caprese Salad of Tomato, Mozarella and Basil. Contrary to the popular belief that making a risotto is time-consuming and labour intensive, you can have dinner on the table in around 25 minutes with this recipe. I’ve also scaled it up recently and made it for a much larger crowd, too. I love the fact that Gennaro’s recipes are always easy to throw together and very family friendly.
Risotto Caprese - Risotto with Tomato, Mozarella and Basil
The ingredients for this risotto are taken from the classic Caprese salad – tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Simple to make and extremely tasty, it’s often my go-to midweek meal for the family - Gennaro Contaldo
- 40 g/1½ oz/2 generous tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 handfuls of basil leaves
- 260 g/9¼ oz cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 320 g/11¼ oz/1¾ cups risotto (Arborio) rice
- 100 ml/3½ fl oz/7 tbsp white wine
- 1.5 litres/52 fl oz/6½ cups hot vegetable stock (bouillon)
- 200 g/7 oz mozzarella, cut into small cubes
- 30 g/1 oz/1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- Heat 20 g/¾ oz/1 generous tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan set over a medium heat. Add the onion and a couple of the basil leaves and sweat for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and continue to sweat for 1 minute. Stir in the rice, making sure each grain is coated in oil. Add the wine and cook until the rice has absorbed it.
- Then add a couple of ladles of hot stock, stirring with a wooden spoon until the rice has absorbed it all. Add a couple more ladles of stock and continue to cook in this way, stirring and adding more stock, for 17–20 minutes, until the risotto is cooked al dente.
- Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter and mozzarella, stirring well until it has nicely melted into the risotto.
- Stir in the grated Parmesan and remaining basil leaves and serve immediately.
Featured with permission given by Pavilion Books. Photography Kim Lightbody.
Gennaro’s Fast Cook Italian
From Fridge to fork in 40 minutes or less