Pesto Tomato Risotto – vegan & gluten free

Risotto is a staple for Official Taster and me. I love it because it’s so versatile and easily adapted to the season’s vegetables. It’s not something I make a lot in the summer because it does require the stove to be on for quite a while, but it’s cool here in the mornings and evenings. In fact, morning air has fall’s crisp edge, and nights are cool enough for a quilt.

Believe it or not, this was the first meal I’ve cooked in our new apartment. We moved a month ago! Cooking was such a relief! I’ve been subsisting on sandwiches, yogurt, and peanut butter because I’ve been home so little at night. I haven’t baked here, yet, but I hope to soon.

For this particular batch, I used some of the pesto I made earlier this summer and some grape tomatoes that needed to be eaten. I’ve also used avocado, squashes, eggplant, tofu, peppers, pine nuts, and probably some others I’ve forgotten, as well as an assortment of fresh herbs. Risotto is also easily adapted to various diets and allergies. I use olive oil instead of the traditional butter, and the cheese is totally optional.

Basic Risotto Recipe

2 C vegetable or chicken stock
2 C water
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 C Arborio rice
1/2 C dry white wine
1/2 C finely grated Romano cheese (optional)

  1. Bring the stock and water to a simmer in a small pot. Once boiling, reduce heat so it’s just high enough to keep the broth warm.
  2. Add olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent (about 9 minutes).
  3. Add the rice and stir frequently until the kernel ends are transparent. Add the wine and, stirring frequently, simmer until the wine is completely absorbed by the rice. Add a couple cups of stock, and stirring infrequently, cook until liquid is absorbed and the bottom of the pan is dry.
  4. Add more stock, about 1/2 C at a time, as needed to keep the bottom of the pan from drying out. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains of the rice are mostly cooked. Add vegetables/pesto/pre-cooked meat or whatever else you’d like, and cook for a few minutes more, until the rice is cooked through. Stir in cheese, serve, and enjoy!

If you’re adding fresh herbs, you can either mix them in at the very end or just sprinkle them over each serving.

For this batch, I used 3 of my pesto ice cubes (see pesto post), but more would have been better. Fewer, and the pesto taste wasn’t really there.

Instead of romano cheese, you can use parmesan, or even types like mozzarella. Play around with flavors!