Previously, CookieMonster was rather upset that I used a rice cooker to cook risotto, haha. Well, this recipe should please him, and those rest of you who feel the same way. ;) Risotto, cooked "properly", and not using a rice cooker (or a microwave! I am gonna make that version soon...)
I wasn't actually planning to make this anytime soon... But when I went to the the supermarket the other day, I found that the price of lettuce had increased drastically and was now £1! Three months ago, they were almost half that! Compared to that, a jar of sun-dried tomatoes were £2, and they last a whole lot longer than lettuce (though they aren't as healthy of course :P Not the oil-packed ones, at least.). So I decided to turn around and change what to make for lunch, since this recipe had also been on my "list" for quite some time now.
This was a rather risky recipe to make, since I had never before eaten proper risotto, and didn't know what to expect. Oh well, it turned out fine in the end, as you may be able to tell. :D Here we go!
What you need:
(to serve 1)
250mL vegetable stock
2 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1/2 onion, chopped - substituted with 3 spring onions
80g Arborio/risotto rice
30g shredded Mozarella cheese
15g Parmesan cheese, grated
5 basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
What you do:
- In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer. While the stock is heating, drain the sun-dried tomatoes and reserve the oil. Chop the tomatoes coarsely and set them aside. (Since I used a vegetable stock cube, I just dissolved it in boiling hot water)
- In a large frying pan, warm 2 teaspoons of oil from the tomatoes, add onion and stirfry until translucent; about 6 minutes.
- Add rice to the frying pan and stir until white spots appear in the center of the grains; about 1 minute. Spoon a ladleful of vegetable stock into the frying pan and cook the mixture on low until all the stock is absorbed; about 2 minutes. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
- Take off the heat and add the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of the remaining oil from the tomatoes, chopped basil. Check seasonings, and add salt and pepper if required. Mix well and serve immediately.
As I was stirring the rice, waiting for it to absorb the stock, I recalled from a TV programme I watched recently that the rice should start releasing its starches and should start getting nice and creamy. I wasn't disappointed! By the end, the thick liquid left was able to hold the rice grains together, yet the grains stayed wonderfully separate. Unlike porridge. Which is good, because I am not such a big fan of the texture of porridge. :D
It did take awhile for the rice to become tender though. It wasn't difficult, just a tad boring. Just waiting and watching and stirring occasionally. That said, the rice needed more liquid than I originally thought (215mL) so I added in normal hot water. The 250mL above is just an estimate, so you might want to add your stock little by little, until you get your desired texture. Otherwise, your rice might end up too soggy.
Anyway... the rice was already looking good when I finished with the stock. (Tasted good too, since I had to taste a little once in awhile, to see if the rice was done). But add in the tomatoes, the basil and cheese (don't forget the cheese!) and ... well, it looked more colourful. But then, I shaped it with a small bowl before plonking it on a plate... and now it looks absolutely amazing! The rice is a slightly golden colour, slightly creamy and you can see the cheese melting on it as well. The basil and sun-dried tomatoes poked out at a few places, giving really pretty splashes of colour. All in all, I am happy, presentation-wise. Don't you agree? Such a pretty plate of rice! It did take awhile to make... about 30 minutes, but that's not too bad for me. I dunno if it will take longer if you up the number of servings. I don't think it will though. Not much longer, anyway.
And I wasn't disappointed, taste-wise either! I've always been a fan of basil, as I've mentioned previously. I've never had sun-dried tomatoes, but although I am not so keen on fresh tomatoes, people have always mentioned how nice sun-dried tomatoes are. And cheese? Well, I love cheese. As I've mentioned over and over and over and over again. Haha. I would have liked to use Cheddar cheese here, but I ran out, plus I suppose "authentic" risottos don't use Cheddar, haha.
Anyway, all the ingredients combined to make Captain Planet! Haha, no, not really, but it was definitely close to being a superhero of a rice dish, at least for me. The texture was really good. Kind of creamy, but not quite as soft as the rice Babah likes to eat, haha. The cheese = amazing, as usual. The Parmesan really gave a nice flavour to it, so I would suggest using that if you can (though remember... Parmesan in the UK is not suitable for vegetarians. I "imported" mine, haha). The basil gave a nice tang to the dish, which complemented the sun-dried tomatoes wonderfully.
Ahhhh... sun-dried tomatoes... okay... I am a fan of them now. Unlike their fresh counterparts, they're not as squishy though still a bit slimy (from the oil) but are wayyyyyyyyyyyy more flavoursome. Really really flavoursome. Ohhhhh, they're really good! I can't believe I've never tried them before. If you haven't either, I suggest you go eat one. Now. Maybe make a risotto? *ahem* Haha. The tomato flavour was much more concentrated than in normal tomatoes and... ohhh, they were delicious. That's all I can say. ;)
They probably don't sell them in Brunei huh? :( Meh... you can probably make your own, seeing as Brunei is a hot tropical country, but you'll probably need tomatoes with good flavour in the first place, for them to make delicious sun-dried versions. Are the tomatoes in Brunei flavoursome enough, do you think?
Quote of the day: The federal government has sponsored research that has produced a tomato that is perfect in every respect, except that you can't eat it. We should make every effort to make sure this disease, often referred to as 'progress', doesn't spread.