A fan favorite Italian dish gets the ultimate summer treatment! Ha! that’s my one liner for this very delicious tomato risotto. Creamy arborio rice cooked in vegetable broth and flavored by juicy umami rich tomatoes + fresh basil. Its super simple yet will have everyone thinking you spent ages making it. Even if you are making this in the middle of winter, you can still make a great tasting risotto(keep reading!). This also makes a great, filling and quick weeknight dinner that you can go to when you have lots of tomatoes on hand.
Risotto is a traditional Northern Italian rice dish typically made from short grain rice like arborio or carnaroli. Although it has a reputation for being a bit hands on and requiring constant stirring, it is actually quite a very forgiving dish. As a rice lover, risotto is a personal favorite. My version is plant based and uses vegetable stock. I have also omitted the white wine since I wanted to serve it to my toddler. Its also extremely customizable and depending on your choice and season, you can make the risotto your own. It is usually served as a first course but it works great as a main served alongside some bread and salad.
Ingredients for making tomato risotto
The full list of ingredients are in the recipe card but I will walk through the main ingredients here.
Rice : Arborio is typically used for risotto. It is a short grain high starch content rice which is what brings that “creaminess” to the dish.
Tomatoes : You have a variety of options while using tomatoes. You can use fresh varieties like Roma, San Marzano,Cherry, Brandywine etc. If making the risotto out of season, you can use canned tomatoes. I highly recommend this one (affiliate). You can also add some sun dried tomatoes for an extra punch!
Tomato Sauce – This is to add some concentrated tomato flavor.
White wine – I did not use any wine in this recipe. If you are using it, then 1/2 cup should suffice for the rice used here. Else you can just substitute that same amount with broth.
Soy Sauce & Mushroom Seasoning – Yes, I know this is not traditional by any means but both these ingredients bump up the umami factor in the risotto. I used a mushroom seasoning powder but you can also use a vegetarian/vegan liquid version.
Aromatics – The main aromatics are onions and garlic. You can use yellow/red onions.
Herbs – I used both fresh and dry herbs including thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram.
Dairy – I used some oat milk to add a hint of creaminess and mellow down some of the acidity from the tomatoes. You can also use regular heavy cream instead. Parmesan cheese is typically used to finish off the tomato risotto. You can use either the vegan or regular version.
Making the tomato risotto in the oven or instant pot
Risotto does require you to be a bit hands on since broth for cooking the rice is added a little at a time before adding more. If you prefer a fairly hands-off approach, then you can absolutely make this risotto in the oven.
Step 1 – Preheat oven to 350 deg F. We will start off cooking the onions, garlic and tomato in the dutch oven. Then add the herbs, tomato paste, soy sauce and mushroom seasoning before adding the rice to gently toast it. Add the 1/2 cup of wine if using else add some broth to deglaze. Once that is done, we will add around 4 cups of broth.
Step 2 – Place in the oven covered with lid so that the top is completely sealed. This will ensure the moisture from the broth is trapped and helps cook the rice completely. Cook for 15 -18 minutes.
Step 3 – Carefully remove from the oven and place on the stove. Heat to medium low and check the consistency of rice. If it needs a few more minutes, then add another 1/2 to 1 cup of broth and stir well. Keep the pot closed and let the rice cook for another 3-4 minutes. Season with more salt and black pepper if required.
Step 4 – Once done, top with parmesan cheese and chopped fresh Italian basil.
Instant Pot(IP) method
This method is going to be very similar to the original recipe except the risotto is being cooked in the IP.
Step 1 – Turn on the saute mode and keep it in low or medium setting by pressing the ‘Saute’ button until the desired heat level is reached. Follow the steps as per the recipe card below.
Step 2 – After adding the stock, close the lid on the instant pot with the valve set to ‘venting’ position. Turn down the saute heat level to low. Check every few minutes to stir and add more broth.
Step 3 – Once done, turn off the IP. Top with grated parmesan and basil.
What to serve with this risotto?
Risotto is typically a first course and served with meat as the second course. To keep this fully plant based, my recommedations would be to serve with
- Fresh grilled bread
- Greens or Spinach Salad
- Roasted Green Beans or asparagus
- Topped with some creamy ricotta
- Served with some cooked cannelini beans + olive oil + dry herbs
Storage, Reheating & Freezing
The starches in the cooked rice keeps releasing even after the cooking process. Hence if you have leftovers, then reheat on the stove top or in the microwave with a little bit of broth mixed in. The risotto can stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freezing – This risotto can also be frozen and stored for up to 3-4 months. Once completely cooled, place in a freezer safe container and place in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for a few hours at room temperature before heating it over the stove top. Add some broth to thin it out a bit.
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- 1 1/2 cup Arborio or Carnaloni Rice
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion peeled and finely chopped
- 4 cloves Garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 6 cups Vegetable Stock
- 2 Large Tomatoes washed and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 2 tbsp Soy sauce optional
- 1 tsp Mushroom Seasoning optional
- 1/4 cup Oat Milk sub with 2 tbsp of fresh cream
- 4-5 sprigs Fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp Dry Italian Seasoning
- 4 tbsp Fresh Italian Basil finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Regular/ Vegan Parmesan grated
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat the dutch oven at medium low level. Add the olive oil and wait for 15-20 seconds for the oil to get hot. Now add the garlic and saute until golden brown.
- Mix in the chopped onions and cook for 3-4 minutes while sauteing regularly. Add the thyme sprigs followed by the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add the rice and toast for a minute. Add a cup of wine or broth to deglaze the pan.
- Now add a cup of broth, soy sauce and mushroom seasoning. Mix in the dried herbs. Season with some salt. Mix well and cover with lid. Check after 5 minutes and add another cup of broth. Mix and cover again. Repeat this until the rice is 'al dente' or just has a slight bite to it.
- Add more salt if required and black pepper. Top with grated parmesan and fonely
- Use canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones if tomatoes are out of season.
- Soy sauce and mushroom seasonings are optional but highly recommended to add an extra boost of umami to the dish.
- All nutritional values are an estimate only and are not absolute values.