This risotto is one of my favourite weekday dinners - it's cheap, delicious, healthy and it really doesn't involve much effort, contrary to what you might think. It's one of my few 'Sean-approved' vegetarian dishes as well, though he always tries to persuade me to add some diced chorizo.
Serves 2 hungry people
- 200g arborio risotto rice
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1 ball mozzarella
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic
- handful of basil leaves
- handful of cherry tomatoes
- knob of butter
Crush and chop your clove of garlic and add it to a small amount of olive oil in a hot pan - give it a quick stir to make sure it doesn't burn as otherwise it'll leave a bitter taste. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, a handful of chopped basil leaves and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and leave bubbling on a low heat.
At the same time, heat up your vegetable stock. Any liquids you add to your risotto need to remain hot so that they absorb properly. Heat up a large pan and add the knob of butter, allowing it to melt before adding the rice. Stir the butter through the rice and heat for a few minutes - this is 'toasting' the rice which helps it to absorb liquid better. Make sure you don't leave it to burn!
Add a ladle of the tomato mixture and a ladle of the stock, until the rice is just covered by liquid. Leave for a few minutes for this to absorb, before repeating. Don't drown the rice all at once, as it won't absorb properly, but make sure you don't leave it to dry out either. You'll run out of tomato mixture before you do the stock - don't worry about that. I don't tend to stir much, but I do occasionally give it a mix so that the rice at the bottom gets lifted to the top and vice versa.
In about half an hour you'll have used up all the mixture, and the rice mixture should be nice and gloopy (the technical term I believe). Drain the ball of mozzarella and grate approximately 2/3 of it - it won't grate very well, but you just want it in small pieces. Add the cheese to the pan and stir vigorously until melted - this is where the risotto should start to look nice and glossy.
Serve up immediately and garnish with the leftover mozzarella, some chopped basil leaves and a few cherry tomato halves, along with a generous helping of pepper. Buon Appetito!