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Roasted Tomato & Goat Cheese Risotto

Before all of summer’s Delicious. Juicy. Sweeeeet tomatoes are gone for good, you must make this recipe. Don’t even bother continuing to read this post. Run out to your nearest grocery store and pick up: pint of cherry/grape tomatoes, goat cheese, arborio rice, basil, onion, garlic, and some veggie broth. Do it now!

Alright, now that you’re back from your grocery trip, I can tell you about this gem of a recipe. The inspiration mostly comes from my love of August’s (and some of September’s) amazingly ripe and perfect tiny tomatoes. They’re snacked on and chopped into many salads. But I downright crave roasting these little babies. And when the cool air of September hits and there are still delicious tomatoes in store, the time is just right to blast the heat in the oven and roast up some tomatoes. The sweetness of the tomatoes intensifies, but is balanced by the smoky char left from the high heat. Perfect Little Red Rubies.

These roasted lovelies have been stirred into soups and pasta dishes, served alongside fish and chicken, and even nestled right back into salads. I figured that if they taste so amazing in all these dishes, they are going to kick some serious taste buds in risotto. Experimenting with risotto is a favourite kitchen past-time of mine. The creamy rice dish is one of the best culinary blank canvases, and you’ll be sure to see plenty of risotto recipes on here.

Typically we add a ridiculous amount of snowy grated parmesan to the risotto right when it’s done, but luckily I noticed a log of goat cheese in the fridge. I figured the tanginess of the soft cheese would be a better balance to the sweetness of the tomatoes. I also added some vinegar to the roasting tomatoes to add one more sharp note in order to tone down any sweetness. Enjoy this one while the tomatoes last folks. Until next year …

Roasted Tomato & Goat Cheese Risotto

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups vegetable stock/broth
2 oz goat cheese, divded
1 Tbsp cold butter
small handful basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place vegetable stock into a saucepan and heat over medium heat.

Half the tomatoes lengthwise. In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, 2 Tbsp olive oil, red wine vinegar and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Spread tomato mixture onto a baking tray (I am incredibly anal and prefer to have all the tomatoes  facing cut-side up…I don’t think it’ll make a difference if you neglect this step). Once oven is at temperature, roast tomatoes for 10-15 minutes until lightly charred.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot, risotto pan, dutch oven (whichever risotto making apparatus you have). Add onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Turn the heat to medium and add the rice. Saute the rice for about 2 minutes, allowing each grain to soak up some of the oil and become toasty. Pour in the wine (and keep your face away from the steam!) and lightly stir the rice. Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, add a ladle full of veggie stock and stir the rice again. Add another ladle full of liquid when the rice has absorbed most of the last addition. Continue this process for approximately 20 minutes, or until the rice is al dente (still slightly chewy – to your liking of course).

(Note: Here is another anal move of mine: I read once that traditional Italians will stir the rice in only one direction during the whole process – so if they started stirring clockwise (my preference), they continue to do so the remainder of the time. Does this make a difference? I’m not sure because I’ve always used this method. But come to think of it, I’ve always made kick-ass risotto!)

Once the rice is cooked, remove the risotto from the heat. Crumble in half of the goat cheese (1 oz) and add the butter – stir to combine. Once the butter has melted, add the charred tomatoes and any juices in the pan, stir again to combine. Have a taste to see if you need any more salt and pepper. Portion the rice into bowls and sprinkle each serving with the remaining goat cheese and some basil.

Serves 4 as part of a full meal – i.e. protein and salad.

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