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Creamy Tomato Risotto with Ricotta

Creamy Tomato Risotto with Ricotta

I love risotto so much. It’s delicious and comforting, a bowl of warm happiness. It’s also very versatile, there are so many options for flavors and it can be paired with nearly any proteins or vegetables. Creamy tomato risotto has to be at the top of my risotto favorites list. It’s so rich and flavorful, and it’s perfect topped with whipped ricotta.

Ingredient Notes

  • Medium-grain rice – Either Arborio or Carnaroli are perfect choices for risotto.
  • Tomato paste – If you’re like me, you use tomato paste in small doses fairly often.  Buying the tubes instead of cans really cuts down on waste. 
  • White wine – Wine adds great flavor and acidity to the finished dish. I like to use either Saugivnon Blanc or Pino Grigio. I generally avoid Chardonnay because it’s a bit more tannic when it’s aged in oak barrels. If you cannot, or prefer to avoid, cooking with alcohol, you can substitute additional chicken or vegetable stock. 
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano – Freshly grated parmigiano adds so much flavor and richness to the risotto. Substitute Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano if you prefer. 
  • Ricotta – Whipped and seasoned, this is the perfect garnish to balance the tomato flavor in the risotto. 

Preparation Notes

Why does the type of rice matter? – Different varieties of rice have different uses, mostly due to their starch content. Traditional American long-grain rice cooks up nice and fluffy, with separate grains because it has a relatively low starch content. Sushi rice, on the other hand, is a short-grain rice with a very high starch content. That’s why it can be molded into rolls and holds it shape, and also does a very good job of holding all of the other components together. Medium grain rices used for risotto, like Arborio, are in between the other two. They have a good amount of starch, and enough to create the saucy liquid that surrounds the rice in risotto, but not so much that you could build things out of it.

What’s with all the stirring? – Risotto has to be stirred. A lot. Maybe not constantly, but nearly so. The reason for this is that traditional risotto’s hallmark is a creamy sauce-like texture that is made without additions of milk or cream. In order to get that to happen, you need the rice grains to release a lot of their starch. This happens best when it is moved around in the pot.

What is “Mantecare?” – This is an Italian term, and there’s no good English translation. We often say that we are going to “mount” a dish with butter and/or cheese to finish it off. It’s close, but it’s not exact. In addition to adding butter and cheese, mantecare also involves stirring vigorously. You are looking to really agitate the rice grains into giving up more starch into the surrounding liquid in order to perfect the texture of the finished risotto. Yes, we’re back to starch and stirring again. They’re pretty much the whole deal when it comes to risotto.

What to Serve with Creamy Tomato Risotto

  • Grilled Chicken 
  • Steak Tips 
  • Italian Sausage 
  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin 
  • Sauteed Vegetables 
  • Grilled Portobello Mushrooms 

Creamy Tomato Risotto with Whipped Ricotta

Course: DinnerCuisine: Italian
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Rich and delicious Tomato Risotto, topped with whipped ricotta cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce

  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1/2 cup diced onion

  • 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice

  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 2 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, divided

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 1/2 cup cream (light or heavy is fine), or to taste

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese

  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Simmer the tomato sauce and stock together in a stock pot. Add salt to taste. It should be a little under-salted, as you will be adding salt in stages.
  • In a large skillet or Dutch oven (you’re looking for a wide bottom), saute the diced onion in olive oil until softened and translucent.
  • Add the rice to the skillet and saute for 2-3 minutes, until the rice is coated in the oil and the outer edges of the grains start to get translucent.
  • Add in the tomato paste and 2 tsp of Italian seasoning. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the tomato paste begins to darken. You’ll know you’re there when you can smell rich, toasted tomato.
  • Add wine to the skillet, and stir to deglaze any tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is evaporated, stirring frequently so that the rice doesn’t scorch.
  • Ladle in the simmering tomato and stock liquid, stirring consistently. Add liquid one ladle at a time, cooking until it’s nearly all absorbed before adding more.
  • Continue to cook, 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently if not constantly, until the rice is completely cooked.
  • Mantecare – Add butter, cream, and parmigiano cheese. Stir vigorously until the butter and cheese melt, and the rice is enveloped in a creamy sauce from the starches, broth and dairy additions. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • In a food processor, combine ricotta cheese, remaining 1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and blend for 30-60 seconds until whipped and smooth.
  • Serve risotto with spoonfuls of whipped ricotta and additional grated parmigiano reggiano.

Notes

  • Feel free to substitute additional chicken or vegetable stock for the white wine if you cannot or prefer to avoid cooking with alcohol.
  • Risotto doesn’t freeze well, and is best eaten when made fresh. If you need to reheat, add a bit of stock when heating in order to avoid drying out the rice.

Let me know if you tried this recipe! Leave a comment with your thoughts, or with any questions. I love to see how your dishes turn out, tag me at @jessiescozykitchen and hashtag #jessiescozykitchen!

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