Sending Off Summer
I love tomatoes - like, really love them. We spent the end days of September canning a million tomatoes to store for the winter - a daunting task that leaves me feeling enormously satisfied and excited for the amazing Fall and Winter dishes that lay ahead. One of my absolute favourite meals, on a chilly Winter evening, is this Tomato & Saffron Risotto with Basil Cream - a dish universally embraced by everyone in my family, even my picky children who wouldn't give veggies a second glance otherwise.
Don’t let the word risotto intimidate you - take your time with this recipe and show it who’s boss - the results will be mind-blowing! Enjoy!
TOMATO + SAFFRON RISSOTO W/BASIL CREAM
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 small pinch saffron
- 1 L good vegetable stock
- 500 ml jar of canned tomatoes - coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup 35% whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
- 6 large basil leaves, chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
Place 2 medium sized pots on medium heat. In one, bring the vegetable stock and tomatoes to a gentle simmer. Add the saffron and keep warm.
In the second pot, add a few glugs of olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted add in the onion and sweat, taking care not to colour them, until they are nice and soft.
Add the Arborio rice to the onions, stirring to coat with the onion/butter mixture and allowing the rice to toast for a few minutes.
Begin ladling the warm vegetable stock into the rice, one ladle-full at a time. As you add each ladle-full of stock, stir the rice vigorously until the stock is absorbed . You will notice once this happens the rice becomes thick and creamy. Repeat this process until the rice is soft yet still firm in the centre. You only need to add enough stock to get to this point.
Finish the risotto with a touch more stock, as it will thicken as your plating, and add the mascarpone cheese and half of the parmesan. Taste a spoonful and adjust seasoning with kosher salt.
With a whisk or mixer, whip cream to soft peaks. Gently fold in chopped basil and allow to sit for 5 minutes in the refrigerator.
Plate the risotto in a bowl or plate. Add a spoonful of the basil to the top of the risotto. Garnish with the remaining parmesan, a drizzle of good olive oil and some freshly ground pepper.