Tomato and basil risotto



500g fresh tomatoes peeled, deseeded and chopped

50g extra-virgin olive oil

2 bay leaves

A small handful fresh basil leaves

A small strip of red chilli, deseeded

280g dry Arborio rice

A knob of butter

1 glass dry white wine

1.5l broth (chicken or vegetable)

2 tbsp basil flower extra-virgin olive oil (or olive oil infused overnight with basil leaves)

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan, or better still aged pecorino

1 tomato, skinned, deseeded and diced for garnish

Abundant basil leaves and basil flowers


Put the tomatoes in a solid based pan with the oil, a bay leaf, the basil leaves and chilli, and cook over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and pass the sauce through a vegetable mill. If the sauce appears watery and lacking in flavour, return to the heat to reduce. Season with salt to taste.

Put the rice in a pan with the butter and another bay leaf; move it around the pan with a wooden spoon, toasting it lightly. Next add a glass of white wine which will be instantly absorbed into the rice. Add the broth, ladle by ladle, gently stirring.

The rice must be just covered with broth at all times: never too much to slow the momentum of the cooking and just enough to have it on the verge of wanting a little more.

Alternate adding the broth with a ladle of the tomato sauce, to impart to the rice the first taste of the dish to come. Stir gently, moving the rice at the bottom of the pan to the top. You can add basil stalks and a bay leaf before the rice has finished cooking, to increase the flavour, but remove them before they discolour.

Continue this way until the rice is cooked al dente. Take the rice off the heat and execute what in Italian is called la mantecazione or “creaming” the risotto. Add the basil flower olive oil, a little more tomato sauce, and half of the cheese and stir well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the tomato garnish and the herbs, then put the pan back on the stove and bring the finished risotto back up to temperature. It is now ready to serve with the remaining cheese to taste.  – The Daily Telegraph

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