Fresh Tomato Risotto

My friend has been sharing her beautiful homegrown tomatoes. Lucky me! They are more delicious than my CSA tomatoes. ❤

I try to use them in a special way and I love that this risotto uses fresh tomatoes in two ways- cooked and sliced as a colorful garnish. My homegrown basil and parsley were the icing on the cake.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I attempted to adapt the recipe to cook using my pressure cooker, as I usually do with risotto, but there wasn’t enough liquid for it to cook properly. Cooking this version in the traditional manner is the way to go. 🙂 By using boiling liquid, it was still a quick weeknight dish!

Yield: 4 servings

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups diced ripe red tomatoes (and all juices)
  • 3 to 4 cups boiling water, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 2 to 4 medium tomatoes, in different colors, sliced
  • chopped parsley, for garnish
  • snipped basil, for garnish
  1. Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, then add the onion, and season generously with salt. Add pepper to taste, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rice and cook the onions, stirring, until the onions are barely brown, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add red-pepper flakes, garlic, white wine and diced tomatoes, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes more.
  4. Add 2 cups boiling water or stock and adjust the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring well with a wooden spoon every minute or so.
  5. When the liquid is absorbed, add remaining 1 cup water or stock and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until the rice is cooked, but the grains are still firm. (I added an additional cup of stock.)
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding another splash of water if necessary to loosen the mixture.
  7. Turn off the heat, stir in the grated cheese and 2 more tablespoons olive oil. (I omitted the additional oil.)
  8. Transfer to a low, wide serving bowl. Surround the rice with tomato slices and season them with salt and pepper.
  9. Sprinkle with parsley and basil. Pass more grated cheese at the table, as desired.

Rigatoni with Easy Vodka Sauce

Pasta is definitely my go-to for quick weeknight dishes. Maybe too often! Vodka sauce is one of our absolute favorites, so this vegetarian, quick version was irresistible. I’ve already made it twice. 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. On one occasion, I added mushrooms to mimic the amazing version served at Tony’s Di Napoli in NYC. I added more garlic and used mezzi rigatoni as well. Great.

Yield: Serves 4

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 5 oz white mushrooms, sliced, optional
  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese, about 1/2 cup, finely grated
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 4.5-oz tube double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb rigatoni or mezzi rigatoni
  • basil leaves, for serving
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. (I used a large, shallow, enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Add the onion and garlic, stirring constantly, just until the onion is starting to brown around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. *If incorporating the mushrooms, add after the onions have cooked for 2 minutes.*
  4. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes and stir to coat onion. Cook, stirring often, until paste is deep red and starting to brown and stick to the bottom of the pot, about 4 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add vodka to deglaze the pan, scraping up browned bits; reduce the heat to low.
  6. Using a heatproof measuring glass, scoop out about 1/4 cup boiling pasta water from the pot. Add heavy cream to the water. (This brings up the temperature of the cream so it won’t break when you add it to the pot.)
  7. Stirring constantly, gradually pour cream mixture into the onion mixture and cook, stirring, until a smooth sauce forms. Remove from heat.
  8. Cook pasta in the pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. About 1 minute before pasta is done, scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid.
  9. Return the pot with sauce to low heat.
  10. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the pasta to the sauce pot.
  11. Stir in 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid, then gradually add half of the Parmesan, stirring constantly to melt. The pasta should be coated with a smooth, glossy sauce.
  12. Season with salt; add more pasta cooking liquid if sauce is too thick.
  13. Top with basil and remaining Parmesan and drizzle with a little oil, as desired.

Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant, Tomatoes & Ricotta

More eggplant! This dish is a great vegetarian alternative to a traditional baked ziti. A crowd-pleasing weeknight comfort-food pasta casserole. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto in NYC. I used San Marzano tomatoes instead of beefsteak and modified the proportions and method. I loved that it incorporated pesto.

To make the dish more healthy, Waxman replaces the traditional béchamel sauce with eggplant. The original recipe even suggests using whole-wheat pasta, if desired. Don’t worry… it is still an indulgent baked pasta dish with butter and plenty of cheese. 😉

Yield: Serves 8

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof baking dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the rigatoni until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Toss the pasta with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet or sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add half of the eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant to the pasta. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of olive oil and the remaining eggplant.
  6. Add the onion, garlic and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have broken down and thickened to a sauce consistency, 7 to 8 minutes.
  8. Stir in the 4 tablespoons of butter.
  9. Add the tomato sauce to the pasta and eggplant along with the pesto and ricotta; season with salt and pepper and toss well.
  10. Transfer the rigatoni to the prepared baking dish. Top with the mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake for about 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden on top.
  11. Let the pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Brown and Wild Rice Bowl with Broccoli Pesto and Wild Mushrooms

More delicious broccoli and rice. 🙂 My husband and son ate this rice bowl topped with grilled chicken. I thought that it was perfect as is!

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I actually doubled this full-flavored broccoli pesto and served the extra batch over penne with chopped fresh tomatoes.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Rice Bowl:

  • 2/3 cup brown Basmati rice
  • 1/3 cup wild rice
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or water with 1/2 teaspoon salt), divided
  • 1 cup broccoli pesto (recipe below)
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces sliced wild mushrooms (I used cremini mushrooms)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
  1. Combine the rice in a small saucepan with 1 3/4 cup of the stock, bring the stock to a boil, turn down to a bare simmer, cover the top with a paper towel and a lid and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated.
  4. Add the broccoli pesto and cook stirring for 1 minute.
  5. Fluff the rice with a fork and add it to the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until combine well.
  6. Add the remaining  1/4 cup broth and salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. To serve, spoon into bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated cheese.

For the Broccoli Pesto:

Yield: about 2 cups

  • 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds or chopped walnuts
  • 6 ounces broccoli, trimmed if necessary and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F, preferably on convection.
  2. Spread out the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Combine the cooled almonds, broccoli, scallions, cheese, olive oil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.
  4. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but not pureed.
  5. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Use as directed in recipe.

Note: The pesto will keep in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Mushroom Carbonara with Orecchiette

I found one additional recipe that I’ve been waiting to share from Bon Appétit’s popular recipe list. Most of these popular recipes are comfort food dishes- no surprise!

This vegetarian carbonara has wonderful rich flavor from the deeply browned mushrooms combined with shallots and garlic. Genius. The luxurious sauce is made with the traditional Italian method, using egg yolks and cheese. This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz. Very nice.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs crimini or button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 1 cup parsley leaves with tender stems (about ½ bunch)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups (4 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb orecchiette
  1. Fill a large pot with water and season well with a few big pinches of salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, tear off and discard stems of mushrooms, then tear them into quarters (or in halves if small). Transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. Lightly smash and peel the garlic cloves, then thinly slice.
  4. Peel and finely chop the shallots.
  5. Coarsely chop the parsley.
  6. Whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, Parmesan, and freshly ground black pepper in another medium bowl; set aside.
  7. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high for a good 3 minutes. You want to get the pan very hot since adding the mushrooms is going to lower the temperature of the surface of the pan.
  8. Toss mushrooms and 4 T extra-virgin olive oil once in pan to coat in oil. Cook, tossing once every 4–5 minutes (but mostly undisturbed), until mushrooms are mostly golden brown, 13–16 minutes. This will take some time and they will let out a lot of moisture before they start to brown.
  9. Once mushrooms have been cooking for about 10 minutes, put the orecchiette into boiling salted water and set a timer 2 minutes shy of al dente according to package directions.
  10. When the mushrooms are deeply browned, reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, shallots, and 1½ teaspoons of salt. Cook, stirring often, until aromatics are softened but not browned, 30–60 seconds.
  11. When pasta is 2 minutes shy of al dente, reserve 2 cups pasta cooking liquid, then drain pasta.
  12. Add pasta along with 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to mushroom mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often to finish cooking the pasta and absorb liquid, about 2 minutes (this is why you’re cooking the pasta 2 minutes shy of al dente; it allows for the flavors to meld as the pasta finishes cooking in the sauce).
  13. Remove from heat and let cool 1 minute. (Don’t skip this step—if the pasta is too hot when you add the egg mixture, it will turn into scrambled eggs instead of a luxurious sauce.)
  14. Add 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to reserved egg mixture and whisk to combine and loosen eggs.
  15. Gradually add egg mixture to pot, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed to loosen things up, until a very creamy, luscious sauce coats all noodles.
  16. Add parsley and stir again to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning for salt.
  17. Divide pasta among bowls. Top with Parmesan and a few cranks of pepper.

Creamy Bucatini with Crispy Mushrooms

As in my last post, this wonderful dish is also part of Bon Appétit’s Most Popular Recipes of 2019. I made this and several other dishes on the list before it was compiled- apparently I was not alone! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I added garlic and white wine. Yummy comfort food.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms (such as maitake, oyster, crimini, and/or shiitake), torn into bite-size pieces (I used 10oz quartered cremini and 8oz torn shiitake)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lb spaghetti or 12 oz bucatini
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 oz Parmesan, finely grated (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high. Cook half of mushrooms in a single layer, undisturbed, until edges are brown and starting to crisp, about 3 minutes. Give mushrooms a toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until all sides are brown and crisp, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a plate; season with salt.
  3. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and mushrooms and more salt.
  4. Finely chop the shallots and garlic in a mini-food processor, if desired.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and return all of the mushrooms to the pot. Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent and softened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  7. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with mushrooms and add cream, white wine, and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  8. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
  9. Remove pot from heat. Add lemon zest and juice, parsley, butter, 1/2 oz Parmesan, and lots of pepper and toss to combine.
  10. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Adjust consistency with additional pasta water, if needed.
  11. Divide pasta among bowls and top with more Parmesan and parsley, as desired.

Herby Polenta with Corn, Eggs, & Feta

This is another wonderful one-pot vegetarian baked egg casserole that can be served any time of day. The title of the New York Times article about it was, “Polenta That You’ll Never Need to Stir: Baking a classic in a sea of eggs and cheese gives it complexity.” Irresistible. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. I used my special grits from Charleston, South Carolina instead of polenta. I also increased the amount of garlic, reduced the red pepper flakes, and kept the corn kernels whole. I loved all of the brightness from the combination of fresh herbs. Delicious!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 9 ounces (255 g) frozen corn kernels (about 2 cups), defrosted
  • 6 to 7 ounces (~200 g) baby spinach (about 10 lightly packed cups), roughly torn or sliced
  • 1 cup (150 g) coarse cornmeal (grits or polenta)
  • 1 packed cup (50 g) finely grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced, 2 T reserved for garnish
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1 T finely chopped and reserved for garnish
  • 3 T roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 T roughly chopped fresh dill
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups (530 ml) whole milk
  • 2 cups (475 ml) chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 3 T (40 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 5 ounces (140 g) Greek feta, roughly crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
  • warm naan, pita, or crusty bread, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F/200°C, preferably on convection.
  2. If desired, add the corn to a food processor and pulse once or twice, just until roughly chopped. (I opted to leave the kernels whole.)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the corn, spinach, cornmeal, Parmesan, scallions, 1/4 cup cilantro, parsley, dill, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper; stir to combine.
  4. Transfer this mixture to a large, deep, oven-proof skillet, then add the milk, stock and butter, stirring gently to mix through. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and give everything a good whisk.
  6. Return to the oven and bake until the cornmeal is cooked through and the mixture has thickened, about 20 minutes. Give the polenta another good whisk — it should be quite smooth and not completely set — then stir in half the feta.
  7. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F/220°C, preferably on convection.
  8. Use a dinner spoon to make 8 shallow wells in the polenta. Crack an egg into each well and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining feta all over, and bake until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny, 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, combine the reserved scallions and cilantro in a bowl with the oil. Spoon this mixture all over the polenta and eggs and sprinkle with the red-pepper flakes, if desired. Serve directly from the pan.

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