Heirloom tomatoes in season are seriously one of my favorite foods. In fact, I got to have a fancy dinner last night and there was an heirloom tomato and burrata salad that I could have eaten gallons of. I was in paradise.
So last week at the farmer’s market when I saw these gorgeous big lumpy heirloom tomatoes, I had to get my paws on them immediately. Thoughts of juicy chunks of tomato swimming in creamy, salty ricotta and tossed with al dente pasta danced through my head. I had plans.
Then plans changed, and I had friends coming over that night, last-minute. Since they’re gluten-, egg-, and dairy-free, I had to make some adjustments to my master plan.
I racked my brain to find something that they’d be able to eat and would still do these beautiful tomatoes justice.
I landed upon a simple dairy-free risotto, making a few adjustments to accommodate their health challenges (namely, I left out the butter and parmesan—sad, but necessary). I was worried it wouldn’t be nearly creamy enough, but it was still totally delicious.
My love of risotto is legendary, and I’ve never understood why people are so scared to make it. Yes, it’s time consuming and takes a little TLC, but it’s also very straightforward, not difficult at all. It’s the perfect dish to put on the stove when you already have people over and want to just stand there and drink wine and chat and stir constantly.
Or heck, make your guests stir and drink wine and chat while you put the rest of the meal together. This dairy-free version lets the tomatoes be the star, with a supporting cast of fresh basil and balsamic vinegar to add just a little extra.
Heat the stock in a saucepan on the stove, keeping it simmering but not boiling at all.
Dice up the onions and garlic. In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium to medium-high. Add the diced onions and sauté until translucent, it will take about 6 to 8 minutes.
Stir in the rice and garlic, stirring constantly and cooking until the kernels start to turn golden brown. This will take 3-5 minutes.
Now things get awesome. Pour in the wine and stir, allowing the liquid to almost evaporate. And now it smells AMAZING in your kitchen!
Turn down the heat to medium. Add a big ladleful of hot stock, stirring until almost completely absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently.
Don’t add the next ladleful until the previous liquid is basically gone. Just keep adding and stirring until the rice is al dente and all the liquid has been absorbed.
Depending on your stove and some other variables, this whole process will take anywhere from 25 minutes to 45. It’s important not to rush it though, I’ve rushed risotto before and always regretted it.
Once all the liquid has been absorbed (or most of the last ladleful), season with salt and pepper to taste (remember you’ll still be adding the parmesan, so go easy on the salt).
I’m partial to a bit of white pepper in risotto myself, as it has a more mild, nutty pepper flavor. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir together.
Stir in the tomatoes and most of the basil.
Serve with the remaining basil on top. We threw in some kale for good measure, because why not??
While I’m a huge proponent of the parmesan cheese and butter that a typical heirloom risotto would have, this dairy-free risotto definitely didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything! If you have dietary restrictions to consider, this dish has got your back!
Try these other risotto dishes:
- Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Fresh Basil
- Creamy Oven Risotto with Spinach, Roasted Cauliflower & Sage
- Risotto Primavera
- Herbed Turkey Risotto with Caramelized Onions
Heirloom Tomato Risotto
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups of Arborio rice
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup of white wine
- 3-4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, kept hot on the stove
- 2 large or 3 medium heirloom tomatoes, diced
- Salt & pepper to taste (I usually use white pepper)
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup of basil, chiffonade
Heat the stock in a pot on the stove, keeping it simmering but not boiling at all.
In a large heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium to medium-high.
Add the diced onions and sauté until translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Stir in the rice and garlic, cooking until kernels start to turn golden brown (3-5 minutes). Pour in the wine and deglaze, allowing the liquid to almost evaporate. Turn down the heat to medium.
Add a big ladleful of hot stock, stirring until almost completely absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently. Don’t add the next ladleful until the previous liquid is basically gone.
Keep adding and stirring until the rice is al dente and all the liquid has been absorbed. The whole process should take about 25-45 minutes, depending on your stove and other factors. Don’t rush it though.
Once the last ladleful has been almost absorbed, season with salt and pepper, and add the balsamic vinegar. Remove from the heat and stir in the tomatoes and most of the basil (reserve some for serving). Stir together and serve warm.
Original recipe here
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