I’ve been really off-track with my eating recently, although I can’t be mad about that given the fantastic bank holiday weekend I just enjoyed. Spa day with my best gals, a copious number of Life-Changing Tacos, and more wine than any of us would really care to admit to having consumed, for fear of tarnishing our good names.
I mean, they might have good names. I’m pretty sure I don’t.
The bottom line is that, while I am in a spiffing* place emotionally, my body in general is pretty pissy with me for having done what I have done to it. It wants good, wholesome food. It wants vegetables that haven’t been fried in several inches of oil. It wants me to follow the Weight Watchers plan because I’m goddamn paying for it.
So here I am, fighting the good fight (against myself) and coming up with a recipe that has, frankly, surprised me with how delicious it is. It is a well-known fact that I love risotto, and it is in fact the first thing I ever really made properly when I was a teenager; I had a little dinner party with some of my friends when we finished our GCSEs (so we were 16 at most) and I can still remember how nervous I was making a risotto for what would only have been the second time in my life.
I’ve now lost count of the number of times I’ve made it, as well as the number of different forms it has taken. The first risotto recipe I posted on this blog was a Goats’ Cheese & Thyme Risotto with Honey-Roasted Parsnips, but as much as I love cheese – and boy howdie do I – I knew I had to finally give a vegan version a go. Cheeseless. Butterless. Without any form of dairy (my one true love).
So I came up with this recipe, and I’ve got to say that it suits the sunny weather we’ve been having perfectly. Give it a go – you may be pleasantly surprised.
Roasted Balsamic Tomato & Basil Risotto (Vegan, Gluten-free)
Serves 2 (10sp per portion)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Medium-large saucepan; roasting tin (lined with greaseproof paper if you know it needs it); measuring jug; stirring and cutting implements, which I guess you know by now.
- 120g risotto rice (arborio/carnaroli)
- 400g cherry tomatoes (plus some more on the vine if you wanna be fancy)
- 2 medium red onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 10 large basil leaves + extra to garnish
- 1 tbsp garlic olive oil (or regular, I just really like garlic)
- 1 vegetable stock cube in 500ml boiling water
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp tomato puree
- Salt & pepper
- Cooking spray
- Oven to 150°C, pan on a medium-high heat, kettle boiling — let’s go. Mist your pan generously with cooking spray then get started on the tomatoes. Cut them into halves/quarters depending on size and spread on the tray, drizzling with the balsamic vinegar and garlic oil, and seasoning with a pinch of salt & pepper. If using extra on-the-vine tomatoes to fance things up, just place them on the tray alongside the un-fanced** tomatoes. The tomatoes will go for around 10-15 minutes.
- Dice the onions and garlic fairly finely, along with the basil, keeping them all separate. Dissolve the stock cube in your jug with 500ml boiling water. Once the pan’s hot, add your onion and cook for 5 minutes until starting to soften, then add the garlic and stir for a further couple of minutes (you may need to add the merest splash of water/stock to stop things from sticking). Pour in the rice and stir for another minute or so until the rice is starting to look translucent.
- Now is a good time to check on your tomatoes. If they’re starting to look squidgy and jammy, and the juices around them are starting to get sticky, you’re in the money – take them out and set aside, turning off the oven. Now back to the rice. Splash in your white wine vinegar and stir gently until this is absorbed. Time for the stock!
- Add the stock a little at a time (you can use a ladle, or eyeball it), stirring frequently to ensure that nothing sticks and you’re “beating” the rice – this will help give a little bit of creaminess without any dairy involved. As soon as the stock is almost absorbed, add the next lot, continuing to stir as frequently as your wrist will allow. Once you’ve added roughly half of the stock, stir in the tomato paste until fully distributed and colouring the risotto, then turn the heat down to medium and continue to add the stock as before until it’s all used up.
- After you’ve added the last bit of stock and it’s nearly absorbed, stir in the jammy tomatoes (and any juices), along with the chopped basil. Continue to stir until it’s nice and thick, then serve with the fancy tomatoes on top and a sprig of leftover basil.
You can tell I enjoyed this because I took roughly 5000 photographs, and they’re not totally terrible. Thank you late-evening sun! Please cast aside all notions of what risotto should be and give this a go – as ardent cheese lovers, neither myself nor Isla was disappointed. Trust in meeeee.
*Spiffing is a perfectly excellent word and should definitely be used more often in conversation.
**I’m teaching you lots of new words today – although some of them are not real, and you should definitely not use them in an English essay.