I’ve written before about how much I love the simplicity of the Caprese Salad. Three simple ingredients – fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil – that come together to create something wonderful. Even thinking about them laid out on a plate, like the Italian Tricolore, makes my mouth water. It also makes me a little sad that I’m not sitting on a sun-drenched terrace gazing out at the Mediterranean. But we can’t always get what we want.
This Risotto Caprese, much like my Chicken Caprese recipe, takes those three wonderful ingredients and presents them in a different way. In this case as a rich, oozing risotto packed with fresh and hearty flavours. You still get the richness of the tomatoes, the freshness of the basil and the creaminess of the mozzarella here. There really aren’t any compromises to be found.
I’ve used a combination of fresh plum tomatoes and tomato purée here. The fresh tomatoes being peeled and de-seeded before being fried in a mixture of olive oil, garlic and shallots. I felt it necessary to add the tomato purée to boost the flavour, as most tomatoes sold here in the UK tend to be lacking on the flavour front.
The risotto itself is a fairly straightforward recipe – made with a splash of vermouth and some good quality vegetable stock. As is so often the case all the action happens in the last two minutes after the rice is almost cooked and the tomato mixture is returned to the pan. At this stage the risotto is taken off the heat and the torn mozzarella added, along with some Basil Oil.
I would recommend serving the risotto immediately after doing this, as the cheese will continue to melt once it’s on the plate. If you leave it too long you’ll have long strings of mozzarella to deal with. That’s a pleasure best left to the person eating this risotto, not the one serving it up. After serving drizzle a little extra basil oil over the top, then decorate with some more torn mozzarella and a few basil leaves.
So, there it is: my Risotto Caprese. A riot of colour and flavour that’s a feast for both the eyes and the soul.
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Shallot peeled and finely chopped
- 1 clove Garlic peeled and crushed
- 6 Fresh Plum Tomatoes peeled and deseeded
- 2 tbsp Tomato Purée
- 150 g Arborio Rice
- 100 ml Vermouth or Dry White Wine
- 500 ml Vegetable Stock kept warm
- 100 g Mozzarella torn into small chunks
- 2 tbsp Basil Oil see notes
- Basil Leaves to decorate
- Put a large frying pan over a medium heat and add 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the shallot to the pan and sauté for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic then fry for a further minute before adding the chopped tomatoes and tomato purée. Cook for a further 5 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. Remove from the pan and put to one side.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in the same pan and turn the heat up a little. Pour in the rice and stir in the oily mixture until well coated, then cook for a couple of minutes until the ends of each grain have turned slightly translucent.
- Pour in the vermouth, or wine – it will bubble vigorously but you want to keep stirring the rice constantly until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Add a generous ladle of the stock into the pan and stir continuously.
- When almost all of the stock has been absorbed add another ladle to the pan, continuing to stir the rice. Repeat this process until the rice is almost cooked through and it has created a rich, creamy coating – this should take around 15-18 minutes. You may not need all of the stock – so proceed with caution to avoid making the risotto too wet (see next step).
- Return the tomato mixture to the pan and stir through the rice. This will add a little more moisture to the risotto, which is why it’s important to not add too much stock earlier on in the process.
- When the rice is tender and cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and stir through almost all of the mozzarella – reserving a couple of pieces to garnish each bowl – and 1 tbsp of the Basil oil.
- Divide the cooked risotto between two bowls then drizzle over the remaining Basil Oil and garnish with basil leaves and the reserved mozzarella chunks.
|Estimated Values per Serving|
|of which Saturates||12||g|
|of which Sugars||5||g|
|Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.|