This week our sweet and dear friend Alessandra, who is also an excellent and refined cooker, shows us how to prepare the Tomato risotto.
- Do you want to introduce yourself, telling us where you are originally from?
Hi there, my name is Alessandra, I am Italian, although… my mother was half Swedish and half Hungarian and I was born in Cile and grown up in several different countries.
- Talking about food, what’s your favorite Italian recipe which you prepare often and easily?
I am not a pasta person, I like it but … well, I prefer rice, in all its variants, Italian or not. But I have 4 boys at home, and if I am depriving them of pasta it has to be risotto!
I have never been a lover of Risotto with Tomato sauce, which is an aberration compared to Pasta and have never done it at home. I have always prepared risotto with mushrooms, or saffron or zucchini or … any variant you might think of, so imagine my surprise when while living in Jerusalem at the beautiful Colony Hotel – whose restaurant is the best in the city – my husband chooses to order “risotto al pomodoro”!!!!
Of all great choices in the menu, risotto al pomodoro????
I was speechless….
But then the dish arrived, I must say it looked nice with the basil leaves on the top and that final finishing of just a bit of olive oil… still I was not convinced.
Then Lio (my husband) took the first bit and his eyes light up… it was delicious!
I tasted it reluctantly and was astonished, it was really good!!! We debated all dinner how to reproduce it and a few days later I made it and discovered that it was really easy.
Since then I make it very often and my older sons are also doing it for their friends at the university abroad, it has been quite a success!
It is super easy to prepare, 20 mins tops and its ready, but it requires you full attention. For those 20 mins you have one job and one job only: stir the rice!
Ingredients for 4 servings:
500 gr riso Arborio
750 gr Tomato puree (1 bottle of Passata di pomodoro) or 2 tomato cans
extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic glove
parmesan cheese, to taste
Heat 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan with the garlic glove (whole); add the passata or the tomato cans. In case you use tomato cans please make sure you pass them though your food processor grinder before, the tomato must be a sauce, no little pieces.
Stir for a few minutes at medium heat and add the rice. Stir for a couple of minutes and start adding hot water, a ladle at a time, cook slowly so that the water is absorbed. Do not put too much water or too little, the secret is there, it must be creamy at all times during the cooking. Cooking it that way it will ensure that the rice releases its natural starches, producing a creamy, velvety dish.
While stirring add salt and pepper to your taste.
After 12/14 mins taste the rice, depending on the quality of the rice it can take longer or less to cook. You should be able to catch the moment when the rice is almost done to avoid putting too much water. Ensure that it is neither too dry or too watery, if the last is the case you might rise the temperature to let the water evaporate while still stirring.
One minute before it’s ready, take it out of the heat and let it rest without stirring for a couple of minutes.
You can then serve it with a flash of olive oil and fresh basil leaves on top.
The parmesan is added individually depending on taste.
- What product from Italy do you miss the most?
This is a difficult question… what I do not miss???
I miss all of it, the taste in the vegetables, the fresh mozzarella di bufala, the pizza al taglio….
Most of all is probably the taste of fruits and vegetables grown and matured with the sun light…. And the variety of it.
- Which place in Italy do you love particularly and you would suggest for our followers to visit?
This is even more difficult, there are so many places in Italy that I love and that have the most amazing dishes you can think of!
Well, what can I say my heart is in Tuscany, Arezzo, Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano… but in particular Monteriggioni!
Monteriggioni is a tiny village with a beautiful pool of thermal water in the middle. Two hotels with their own thermal pools and a fantastic small winery on the square that provides you with the best selection of wine, cheese and “antipasti toscani”, the best crostini toscani I have ever had!!!
It is the best destination for Autumn breaks!
But if you are looking for the sun then definitively Taormina in Sicily!!! It’s Roman theatre, the sea, the gardens and the FOOD!!! OMG, the food is amazing and the Sicilian wines are the best!