Time: 40 min
Bring one of Italy’s most iconic dishes home with this quick and easy creamy tomato risotto recipe. We’ll show you how to get maximum authentic flavour with some of our favourite, top-rated ingredients, and how to serve this delectable risotto with a selection of sides and finishing touches.
What is risotto?
Risotto is similar to rice in its appearance, but the grains are a little bigger and much creamier when cooked - think of it as Italy’s answer to mac and cheese!
Risotto is simmered and water is added gradually during the process. This allows risotto to release its starches slowly, giving it a soft, rich, and creamy texture.
Where does risotto come from?
Rice was brought to Italy and Spain in the Middle Ages and it was soon discovered that the Mediterranean climate was ideal for growing shorter-grained rice, so the ingredient quickly became incredibly popular. Rice also became highly profitable in regions like Genoa and Venice, and its popularity grew from there. When it reached Milan, rice became a true staple in Italian cuisine. The slow-cooking process in particular was quickly adopted, discovering that it helps release rich flavours and indulgent textures. One of the first risotto dishes to be introduced by the Italians is risotto alla Milanese.
What is usually in risotto?
Over time, risotto became one of Italy’s most iconic national dishes that the many other countries have adapted, and various Italian regions have created their own variations with ingredients like lobster, artichokes, and truffles. Here are some of the most popular risotto dishes in Italy:
Risotto alla Milanese (Milan) - The oldest and one of the most simply yet most luxurious risotto dishes is risotto alla Milanese. Saffron is one of the main ingredients in this recipe, which releases a vivid colour that makes this dish so recognisable, as well as beef broth and parmesan.
Risotto ai frutti di mare - Seafood risotto is widely available all over Italy, but particularly in coastal regions like Naples. Typical ingredients include shrimp, squid, and mussels.
Risi e bisi (Veneto) - This dish is especially popular during the spring in celebration of Saint Mark. It features peas, butter, stock, and parmesan.
Risoto al limone - Another simple classic is lemon risotto. This deliciously creamy and wonderfully light risotto dish is one of the most traditional varieties and tends to make an appearance during the summer months.
Risotto con salsiccia - This hearty dish is common in northern Italy, perfect for chilly winter evenings, and features salsiccia sausage and porcini mushrooms.
There are tons of other variations like risotto alla zucca (pumpkin risotto), risotto primavera (asparagus and pea risotto), riso e patate (risotto with potatoes), and much more!
What can I add to my risotto?
Risotto is an extremely versatile dish and it’s easy to adapt its flavours to your liking. In this recipe, we’ve gone for traditional tomato and parmesan, but to enhance some of the flavours, you could swap the Torchio Antico olive oil for our Casa Rinaldi basil-infused olive oil. This flavoured oil is an excellent and easy way to add extra depth to your risotto and boost the freshness and fragrance of basil that complements the tomato. The rosemary-flavoured oil would also work just as well in this recipe.
Creamy Summer Tomato Risotto Recipe
1l vegetable stock
Knob of butter
1 tbsp Torchio Antico 100% Cold Pressed Olive Oil (plus extra for the roast tomato garnish, optional)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 rosemary sprig, finely chopped
300g cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
A few handfuls of parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 ripe vine tomatoes, halved (to garnish, optional)
If you’re making the roast tomato garnish for your risotto, start by preheating the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Place the vine tomatoes on a baking tray with the cut side facing up, and season with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes until soft and the top has charred a little. Once ready, remove and set aside.
Place the cherry tomatoes and half the stock in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and stir in the remaining stock. Bring it to a simmer over a low heat.
Next, heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan until the butter has melted. Add the chopped onion and fry gently for 6-8 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and rosemary, and cook for another minute. Tip the rice into the sauce pan, stir, and cook for 1 minute.
Gradually add the tomato and stock mixture, one ladle at a time. Stir often and make sure that all the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next batch. Once you’re halfway through the stock, stir in the cherry tomatoes, and return to adding the stock. It should take 20-25 minutes for all the stock to be absorbed, leaving the rice creamy and tender.
Cover the pot with a lid and let the risotto rest for 1 minute. Divide into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of basil, parmesan, grinding of black pepper, and the roast tomatoes (if using).
How to serve risotto
Risotto is best served immediately for maximum freshness and flavour, and to avoid a gloopy texture. For a light option, you can serve your tomato risotto on its own or if you’re looking for an appetiser or side, why not try a tasty homemade Italian loaf? We recommend simple focaccia or if you’re looking for something a little more complex, our olive and rosemary crown is an excellent choice!
To drink, classic limonata is subtle and refreshing, and it won’t interfere with the wonderful flavours of the risotto. If you’re hosting an al fresco dinner party or summer BBQ, a crisp white wine like Campi Valerio Fannia is fresh and delicate, with a hint of citrus, tropical, and vanilla flavours that make the perfect pairing with creamy dishes like risotto.
Risotto is one of the most celebrated Italian dishes. It’s a common misconception that risotto is hard to make from scratch - it takes a little bit longer and it’s very hands-on, but with the right ingredients like our authentic selection from local Italian suppliers, it’s really easy to bring traditional Italian meals to life in your kitchen.
To browse more tasty Italian goodies and recipes to pair with your tomato risotto, visit the Real Italiano shop.