I love the end of summer in Europe. The farmers’ markets are filled with the wealth of vibrantly tinted, fragrant vegetables and fruits, and a walk amongst the stalls where I can absorb the colours and smells harvested at this time of year is a pleasure in its own. It brings me joy and often a silent pause in amazement over the generosity and power of nature.
Whether pulled out of the ground or snapped off a stem, to me the late August and September vegetables have the most wonderful flavour and work like a magic spell in the late summer dishes. My Red Pepper and Tomato Risotto I have for you today surely takes advantage of that.
Bell peppers and tomatoes are really best mates and you can’t go wrong when pairing them in any dish. The best example of that is Hungarian Pepper Stew for example. My Red Pepper and Tomato Risotto has more acidity and tang to it though. Adding bacon or smoked sausage (as you could do in the Hungarian Pepper Stew) might overpower the finished dish, so go easy should you wish to use either.
Red Pepper and Tomato Risotto is a celebration of the late summer flavours
To make Red Pepper and Tomato Risotto you’ll need only half the amount of stock you’d use in the risottos I shared in the past (Easy Gourmet Mushroom Risotto, Waldorf Salad Risotto, or Asparagus Lemon Risotto). In late August and September bell peppers and tomatoes are bursting with their natural, flavoursome juices and there is plenty of them locked inside the veg to cook the risotto rice and inject it with bags of fresh tastes.
The real deal in today’s risotto is the marriage of peppers, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. The cheese really brings it all together and offsets the risotto’s sweetness and acidity. Oh, and chives of course! Mix them in at the very end of cooking. Chives add freshness and underline the lovely mingle of the peppers and tomatoes.
Red Pepper and Tomato Risotto is a lovely, comfort dish anyone can make at home to celebrate the end of Summer and I hope you’ll enjoy cooking and eating it as much as I do. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below the post or on FaceBook!
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large red or yellow bell peppers, sliced to bite size pieces, seeds removed
- 6 plum tomatoes
- 180g risotto rice
- 150ml dry white wine
- 800ml vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup fresh chives, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
- In a large, wide pan or a skillet, on a medium-low heat, cook onions, celery and garlic until onions are soft, but don’t let it brown. (The celery will still be crunchy, but it will soften further later).
- While the onions are cooking, boil enough water to cover all tomatoes in a deep bowl. Wash and score tomatoes and pour the boiling water over. The skin should loosen up within minutes and this will help you to remove it easily. When done quarter the skinless tomatoes and remove the core.
- Now place tomatoes in a food processor along with peppers, add a splash of water and process to achieve a rough, loose paste.
- Onions should be soft by now. Mix in the rice and while stirring a lot and let it toast gently for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the wine. This will add a lovely fragrance. Let the wine cook off almost completely and then pour the tomato and pepper paste. Stir well and let the rice absorb most of the juices. Then add a few ladles of stock and allow the rice to absorb the liquids again. Stir it often to help release the starch and turn your rice into creamy risotto.
- Continue adding stock ladle by ladle until the rice is cooked through, soft, but with a touch of bite in it. Keep the temperature of your pan no higher than medium-low so the stock is absorbed by the slow cooked rice instead of evaporating. (If you do this you shouldn't need more stock, but if you do, you can replace it with a bit of water or milk.)
- When your risotto rice is cooked, stir in the Parmesan, then butter and chives. Season to taste and serve with more Parmesan if desired.