There is a lesson in every dish. Red Beans and Rice teaches us patience, watermelons teach us joy, roast chickens hard work. Risotto teaches us mindfulness. Despite the heat, I mentally needed to focus on cooking today. Risotto is made with constant stovetop attention and repetitive stirring until you think your arms are going to fall off. But there’s beauty in making something that requires all of us. My Sun-dried Tomato Risotto is made with a chunky homemade pesto, and I invite you to be as creative with this dish as you can! If you don’t have walnuts, try pine nuts or pecans. If you forgot cherry tomatoes, skip it. This is about improvisation, and I guarantee you that this dish will be amazing no matter how you modify it. The only requirement is that you stir and stir for just twenty minutes.
Let’s get started on this recipe. We begin with the pesto. Get a blender or food processor and throw in the jarred sun-dried tomato halves along with a handful of cherry tomatoes, a handful of basil, a handful of walnuts, a handful of parmesan, a garlic clove, a drizzle of red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. It’s important that you use the jarred kind of sun-dried tomatoes, not the dried kind. I like to use these! Then give it a couple good pulses. Next, we’ll add the olive oil. While the food processor runs, gradually pour in the olive oil through the vent hole. It may need some more depending on what texture you prefer.
Then we start on our risotto. The key is to start simmering a small pot of broth to pour gradually into the rice. I also like to soak the risotto and reserve the soaking liquid. So put your risotto in a medium bowl and cover with water by about a half inch for five minutes. Then drain, reserving the starchy water. We’ll use it later.
Melt your butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Then pour in your arborio rice to toast. Let it get nice and toasty for about two minutes. Then pour in the starchy water that you reserved. Stir, continuously (you’re going to get really tired of me saying that) until the liquid is absorbed. Then pour in your white wine, stirring continuously until the liquid is absorbed.
Now, while the broth is simmering, pour a half cup of broth into the risotto, stirring continuously until all the liquid is absorbed. Add a pinch of salt. Repeat this until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, adding just a half cup at a time. Once the rice is tender, add the parmesan and stir in a half cup of the pesto you made. Stir it all together and let it warm for a minute. Then remove from heat and serve, topped with cherry tomatoes. See the full recipe below for Sun-dried Tomato Risotto. Plus if you love this recipe, you may also like my Spring Risotto with Goat Cheese.
- ½ cup jarred sun-dried tomato halves, drained
- 6 grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup walnuts
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1 qt vegetable broth
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ cup white wine
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- In an 8 cup food processor, add the sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, vinegar, parmesan, walnuts, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse a few times. Turn the food processor on high and use the vent hole to slowly pour in the oil while the food processor runs. Taste and see if it needs salt or more olive oil. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add the arborio rice and cover with cold water about a half inch. Let this sit for five minutes. Heat the vegetable broth in a medium pot over high heat and then bring down to a simmer on low.
- Once the broth is simmering, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and melt. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook one minute more.
- Drain the rice in a colander, reserving the starchy liquid in a bowl. Pour the drained rice into the pan with the onion and toast for two minutes, stirring continuously to keep the rice from burning. Add the starchy liquid to the rice mixture, stirring continuously until all the liquid is absorbed. Add the white wine, stirring continuously until all the liquid is absorbed. Add a pinch of salt and turn the heat down a hair to medium.
- Scoop about a half cup of the simmering broth into the risotto, stirring continuously until liquid is absorbed. Continue to do this for twenty minutes until the risotto is tender, adding a pinch of salt each time. Add the cheese and stir. Add a half cup of the pesto to the risotto and stir for a minute just to warm. Serve immediately, topped with the cherry tomatoes.