Oven Roasted Tomato Risotto Recipe
The summer weather in the Bay Area hasn't been so great this year, and on top of that, an infestation of gophers in our garden forced us to grow fewer tomatoes in small planters this year. Not only are there fewer varieties, but because of the lack of heat the plants have not been all that prolific. I gathered a couple of handfuls of the few ripe cherry tomatoes I could find and I was determined to do something special with them.
To start, I slowly roasted them in the oven. I could have stopped there and just served them in a salad, but I opted to make my husband's favorite comfort food: risotto. Risotto is extraordinarily versatile (I've developed multiple variations) and perfect for any occasion. For this version, I used Carnaroli rice, which holds its shape better than Arborio rice. For a bit more texture, I mixed in melon-seed macaroni (similar rice-shaped pasta). The combination has a creamy mouthfeel, so no heavy cream is necessary. I colored the dish with sharp yellow Cheddar cheese and served it to all the vegetarians in the house. I think it ended up being a perfect send off for the fruits of our labor.
Yields: 8 servings24 ounces ripe cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100), stemmed
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon wild flower honey
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cups Carnaroli rice
1 cup orzo
6-½ cups vegetable stock, warm
½ cup Cheddar cheese, diced
½ teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
3 tablespoons curly parsley
Roasting tomatoes in the oven:
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, lengthwise.
Brush a baking pan with olive oil. Arrange the tomatoes, flesh side up.
In a small bowl, dissolve the honey in balsamic vinegar. Add garlic and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a plastic squeeze bottle, shake well and squirt it over the tomatoes.
Roast for 2 hours at 275°F. At the end, to ensure the garlic is well roasted, change the setting to broil for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
For the risotto:
In a deep saucepan, heat the oil and fry the shallots until golden. Transfer to a plate with the roasted cherry tomatoes, leaving as much oil as possible in the saucepan. In the same saucepan, add the orzo, rice and butter. The oil should coat all the grains. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and the Cheddar cheese and stir frequently.
After bringing the liquid to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes. Check the liquid and periodically add ½ cup of warm stock as soon as the liquid has been absorbed. Let simmer for another 25 minutes.
When the grains are almost cooked, season with salt and pepper. Top with the roasted tomatoes, caramelized shallots and parsley. Stir well. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
Garnish with more curly parsley before serving.
Coating each grain in butter prevents them from sticking to one another.
For this dish, I used exactly 6-½ cups of stock (you could also use chicken stock). The quantity of liquid may vary depending on the heat of the stove and how long you're cooking the grains. At the end, I let it simmer uncovered, sometimes adding another ¼ cup of warm liquid at a time until I achieve the right consistency and level of doneness. I like risotto al dente, not too mushy. Watch the risotto closely! The key is to pour the liquid incrementally and never let the dish dry out, or the rice and pasta will burn at the bottom.
To get cheesy flavor and yellow color without the stringy cheesy bits, add Cheddar cheese right after boiling the broth.September 13, 2011.