Monday, July 26, 2010

Tomato and Red Pepper Risotto

As I said yesterday, I would post up my tomato and red pepper risotto recipe, so here it is.
This is simple, nutritious and tastes great served as a starter for a weekend meal for friends or as a wet Wednesday night comforting supper to heal, restore and haul you through the rest of the week.

I also believe wholly in the fact that it is a great vehicle for hiding vegetables for children.  Just about everyone I know with children has a problem at some stage or another with trying to get them to eat some kind of vegetable.  My boys love this risotto, tonight we ate it with a side of buttered green beans, but you could also add a finely chopped courgette to the risotto towards the end of cooking or some frozen peas or cooked chopped carrots are always an option for children.

For the stock, you will need:

500g of very ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped into quarters
1 large red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 sticks of celery (if you have it)
a sprig of thyme and some fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper

Place all of the above (excluding the salt and pepper) into a large saucepan and add about 1 litre of water.
Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for about an hour.  You can make this in advance like I did and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours.

After and hour, strain through a sieve, retaining the soup in a saucepan. Add salt and pepper at this point to taste.
It will then be re-heated and added gradually to the risotto.

For the risotto, you will need:
300g risotto rice, arborio or carnaroli
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 lump of Parmesan cheese
2 tblsps olive oil
1 knob butter
1 large glass of dry white wine

In a wide shallow pan, heat the olive oil and butter. 
Add the finely chopped red onion and fry until the onion is soft and has caramelised slightly.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for a few more minutes. 
Add the risotto rice, either arborio or carnaroli, and stir well to ensure that the grains are coated evenly in the oniony oil.  Pour in the white wine and let it bubble for a few minutes to remove the alcohol. 
Meanwhile, on a neighbouring ring, heat the tomato stock.  When it has just reached boiling point, turn the heat down and leave it simmering nearby.  Using a ladle or a cup, pour the stock over the rice initially until it is just about covered.  Simmer slowly, gradually replacing the stock which has been absorbed.  Try not to stir it too much and this will break up the grains of rice towards the end of cooking, just keep it moving enough to distribute the liquid and prevent it from sticking to the bottom if (you are not paying enough attention and) it gets too dry.

After about 20-25 minutes of gradually adding stock, the grains of rice should still have a little bite in them, taste and see if you like the texture.  It should not be too soft, rather al dente.  Turn off the heat and add a generous handful of grated Parmesan cheese.  Gently fold this into the risotto until it is absorbed and the risotto has taken on a silky texture.

Serve with some more grated Parmesan.


  1. It sounds like you had a fabulous time in Berlin-one of my favourite cities ever. I hope your son is better, what a dreadful scare, but tg the German system is so good. Is it any wonder Bono had his surgery there.

  2. thanks for the kind comments, it was a scary time for us all but he is well on the mend, thanks to the German doctors!

  3. I have just discovered your BRILLIANT blog, but I am a bit confused. Are you from Berlin, and if not, what is the Berlin connection? I am reading it from the beginning, but I haven't figured it out yet.

  4. Hi cj, I am Irish but I moved to Berlin for the summer from Dublin, for a change of scenery and to catch up with friends. I go back next week to Dublin after having had a wonderful few months here. Glad you like the blog, hopefully I will pick the pace up a bit again when I get back home!