Thursday, September 20, 2012

Risotto with Arugula and Blisted Cherry Tomatoes

I saw a sign at the grocery store that read, “Go from cook to chef with my cherry tomatoes.” Oh, if only it was that easy.
I picked the cherry tomatoes at a local organic farm where I could wander into the field and pick them right off the vines: tiny yellow ones, heirloom Cherokees, sweet small orange ones. As a bonus there is the smell given off by the leaves of the tomato plants as you reach in for your treasures. Heady stuff.
For the purpose of this recipe, I have scaled it to two portions. For larger portions, figure 1/3 cup Arborio rice,  4 ounces cherry tomatoes, extra arugula  and additional broth per person.
Once again, I will call upon the services of my youngest daughter/risotto whiz before we lose her to her last year of college. It’s been a good summer for us. We have been very lucky.
Even though I have made risotto for a long time, I still set a timer (for 18 minutes after the wine is added) and cook the risotto while eyeing the timer.

Risotto with Arugula and Blistered Tomatoes

2/3 cup Arborio rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons minced shallot
½ cup dry white wine
8 ounces “blistered” cherry tomatoes (recipe below)
2 handfuls baby arugula
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil, for cooking
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. To make the blistered tomatoes: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the cherry tomatoes under cold water. Toss the tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Place the tomatoes onto a baking tray. Scatter a few sprigs of fresh thyme over the tomatoes. Roast the tomatoes for 15 minutes, until they take on some color and have begun to split. Remove from oven and let cool while making the risotto.


2. Place the broth into a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Keep it at a low simmer as you cook the risotto.
3. Place a second saucepan for the risotto over medium heat. When hot, swirl in 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallots and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes; adjust heat if necessary. Add the rice and stir to coat it in the olive oil.
Pour in the white wine and stir. Stir until the wine is almost absorbed. Ladle about ¼ cup of the hot broth into the rice. Now begins the process of stirring the rice and adding the broth, about ¼ cup at a time. Adjust the heat to keep the risotto at a gentle simmer. Add broth when the liquid is almost absorbed into the rice; stir throughout at this point of the cooking.
4. Continue cooking the risotto by adding more broth as needed. After about 10 minutes cooking time, you won’t need to stir constantly but watch that there is enough broth in the pot and that the risotto isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. Season the risotto with a little salt. After about 18 minutes, taste the risotto. The rice should be firm but it shouldn’t have any undercooked crunch to it. If it does, continue cooking for a few more minutes.
6. When the risotto is al dente, remove risotto from heat. Stir in the blistered tomatoes, their juices and the arugula. Add the butter, Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper and stir. Cover the pot and set it aside for two minutes. After two minutes, check the risotto. Add a little extra broth if you like your risotto a little loose. Taste and adjust seasoning. Portion the risotto into two bowls. Drizzle each with a little extra virgin olive oil and additional grated Parmesan cheese. Yes, we’re going to miss her around here.

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