HERILOOM TOMATO RISOTTO AND RICE BALLS OR CAKES

heirloomTomRisottoRisotto is one of the simplest and most versatile of dishes. Use this recipe as a guide, but feel free to try it without the white wine, with just onions if you don’t have shallots, with just butter or just olive oil, and with many different “add-ins.” If you are like me, winter bring on a craving for the flavors of summer, and this recipe does the trick, with rib-sticking comfort and a nod to summer.

  • 1 quart heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved, or 4 cups full-size heirloom tomatoes, quartered
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ basil, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2–2½ tablespoons butter or olive oil (I use both, 1+ tablespoon butter, 1+ tablespoon olive oil)
  • ¾ cup mixed shallots and onions, chopped (I use 2 shallots and 1 small onion)
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Toss tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Spread over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 25 minutes.

While tomatoes are roasting, heat butter and oil in a large saucepan or risotto pot over medium flame. When butter is melted, add chopped shallots and onions. Sauté for 2–4 minutes, until translucent.

Add rice, stir to coat thoroughly and sauté for another minute or so. Add white wine and stir until it is completely absorbed.

Next we begin the process that makes risotto creamy. Add a ladle of hot chicken broth and stir constantly until it is absorbed.

Repeat until you have used most, if not all, of the broth and the rice is tender but not mushy.

Remove from heat, add the Parmesan cheese, fold in tomatoes (which probably came out of the oven 5 minutes or so ago) and serve immediately.

Makes 4 generous dinner servings or 6 side servings.

RISOTTO CAKES OR BALLS

These cakes are known as arancini, which means “small oranges” in Italian. made with your leftover risotto, they take comfort food to a new level. They are the king of comfort!

  • 2 cups leftover risotto
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • ²⁄₃ cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs (can substitute gluten-free breadcrumbs)
  • ¹⁄₃ cup cornmeal/polenta
  • 2–3 ounces mozzarella cheese, diced into ¼-inch cubes
  • Vegetable oil—enough to coat your frying pan with about ¼ of oil plus more as needed to fry the rice balls

Mix risotto, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper and parsley. Blend the breadcrumbs and cornmeal together. Mix ½ cup of thismixture into the risotto mixture, and place the other ½ cup in a shallow bowl.

I like to make small, bite-sized balls. Scoop up a heaping teaspoon, insert a mozzarella cube into middle and roll between your hands to make a tidy ball.

Then roll it in the breadcrumb/cornmeal mixture. Heat oil over medium-high heat but monitor it as you go. Add the rice balls, cook until golden brown on all sides, remove onto a paper towel to drain excess oil. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature and enjoy!

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