Late Summer Roasted Heirloom Tomato Risotto and Rice Balls
Risotto is one of the simplest and versatile of dishes. And while I provide this recipe as a guide, keep in mind you can make risotto without the white wine, with just onions if you don’t have shallots, with just butter, just olive oil and with many different “add-ins.” To celebrate the end of summer, however, nothing beats ripe, fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes.
1 quart cherry tomatoes, halved or 4 cups tomatoes, quartered
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 basil, minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2-2 1/2 T of butter or olive oil (I use both, 1+ T butter, 1+ T of olive oil)
3/4 cups of a mix of shallots and onions, chopped
(I used 2 shallots and one small onion)
2 cups of Arborio Rice
1/2 cup white wine
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Clean and halve the cherry tomatoes. Toss with olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Spread over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 25 minutes.
While your tomatoes are roasting, heat your butter and oil in a large saucepan or risotto pot over medium flame. When butter is melted, add your chopped shallots and onions. Saute for 2-4 minutes until translucent. Then add your arborio rice and stir to coat thoroughly with your butter and oil and then continue to saute for another minute or so. Add your white wine and stir until it is completely absorbed. Next we begin the process that makes risotto creamy. Add a ladle of your hot chicken broth and stir constantly until is is absorbed. Repeat until you have used most, if not all, of your broth; and when your rice is tender but not mushy. At this time, remove from heat, add the parmesan cheese, fold in your 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
(known as Arancini which means small oranges in italian)
2 cups of leftover risotto
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp minced parsley
2/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup corn meal/polenta
2-3 oz. mozzarella diced into 1/4” cubes
Vegetable oil - enough to coat your frying pan with about 1/4” of oil; and to add oil, as needed to fry the rice balls.
Mix risotto, eggs, parmesan salt, pepper and parsley. Blend the bread crumbs and cornmeal together. Mix 1/2 of the bread crumb and cornmeal mixture into the risotto mixture. Place the other 1/2 cup in a bowl to roll your rice balls.
I like to make small, bite-sized balls. Using a teaspoon, scoop a heaping teaspoon and insert a mozzarella cube into middle, roll into ball between your hands to make a tidy ball and then roll into bread crumb/cornmeal mixture. Once done, 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 room temperature and ENJOY!!
Nana’s Lentil Soup
Lentil soup seemed to be an easy and often served soup growing up. Nana always doctored it up with what she had on hand - be it dried salami, pancetta etc. and it was always served with Pecorino Romano cheese. Simple, fast, healthy and delicious.
2 cups lentils, washed and drained
2 1/2 quarts water
1/4 cup dried salami, salt pork, pancetta (or not - tastes better with!!)
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cups chopped onions
1 clove minced garlic
1 bay leaf
Salt, pepper, parsley - to taste
Grated Pecorino Romano to taste
Place water and lentils in soup pot over medium heat. In another pan, saute dried salami, carrots, onions and garlic for about 10 minutes. Add to lentils with a bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes until lentils are tender. Serve with grated Pecorino Roman and ENJOY!
Curried Lentil Soup - my adult yearnings
While I loved Nana’s lentils, I discovered the world of exotic flavors when I went to college and beyond and grew to adore curry. I became addicted to a curried lentil soup at the Sultan’s Kitchen in Boston and have tried to mimic it’s taste. Here’s what I have come up with. I jazz it up with sweet potatoes and swiss chard to pack a complete anti-oxidant punch - and if you love curry - this is addicting soup!!
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onion chopped
4-5 minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
8-10 cups chicken broth
4 cups, sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 cups french lentils
1 bay leaf
2 cups of sliced swiss chard
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, heat the oil, then add the onions and saute until translucent - 5 minutes or so. Next, add garlic, garam masala, curry powder and jalapenos. Cook until aromatic - about 1 minute. Add 8 cups of chicken broth, lentils and sweet potatoes. Bring to a high heat and boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 25 minutes. If you like a soupier consistency, this is when you might want to add more broth. Add the swiss chard, and season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes. Once cooked, finish with minced cilantro and serve to your heart’s content and ENJOY!!