When basil season is in full swing I like to break out my basil risotto recipe a couple times. I was all prepared to do that last night when I looked around the kitchen and realized that I had fresh tomatoes on the counter and a lovely mozzarella in the fridge. I’ve never been completely satisfied with just adding basil to a standard risotto so that’s when inspiration hit. Risotto Margherita! I made a standard risotto, but added fresh tomatoes, basil, and freshly shredded mozzarella to it. It was divine! A great way to use those summer flavors.
If you’re familiar with risotto making, then just make your standard risotto and add basil, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella to taste. If you’ve never made risotto, then here’s a crash course.
1/3 c onion, finely diced
drizzle of olive oil
1 c Arborio rice (only Arborio rice works, no substitutions)
5 c chicken stock or vegetable stock
About 2 tomatoes, large dice
About 10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
About 1 c shredded mozzarella
In a large pot heat a drizzle of olive oil. Add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes or until the onion is soft and fragrant. Add the Arborio rice and saute for another 2-4 minutes or until the rice begins to emit a nutty smell. Begin adding the stock about 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring constantly and not adding any additional liquid until the previous liquid has been absorbed. Do not rush this step! You can’t add all the liquid at once and walk away. You have to coax the rice to absorb the stock slowly. It will take about 20 minutes to incorporate the liquid, but it’s worth it. The result will be a creamy consistency almost like rice pudding. Divide the rice into bowls and sprinkle the basil, tomatoes, and cheese on top. Most commercial stocks are pretty salty, so you won’t likely need to salt, but a couple grinds of pepper might be a great touch.