Caprese Risotto

The latest issue of Chatelaine had an article on various kinds of risotto and the caprese version definitely appealed to me, until I saw that they had made it with tomato juice. And I hate tomato juice. The thought of a tomato-soupy, blood-red risotto wasn't grabbing me, although the combo of summer-fresh caprese ingredients with fall comfort food wouldn't let me go. After a quick search, I found this version that kept all the ingredients separate (which also meant that the kiddies could choose a plainer version if they wanted... and they did).
I initially added some chopped pancetta to the sauteed onions but immediately realized by the smell, in fact the stench, that the pancetta was horribly and terribly past its due date. So I had to start over again, with better results the second time around. Since Maddie and Austin chose the non-caprese version, it was a pretty bleak, monotone, unimaginative presentation on their plates and Austin accused me of serving him "the kind of food you get in jailhouses." Jailhouses. Hmmm. Gruel a la Oliver Twist is what he had in mind. Kind of like Little Shack accusing Carole of serving him prison food when she made homemade granola a few months ago. Not sure if Parmigiano-Reggiano is served by Her Majesty's Finest but he could be right, even though not a single grain of rice was left on his plate at the end of the meal. Q pointed out that something was missing in terms of overall taste and satisfaction, and I really do think the pancetta would have added some meaty ompf... just unfortunately not the rotten pancetta that we had on hand.

serves 4

1 small onion, diced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/4 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

6 cups chicken broth, warmed

handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered

handful of basil, chopped

six bocconcini balls, quartered

some grated parmesan

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil and butter until translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another two minutes, and then add the arborio rice. Cook for a few minutes to toast up the rice and then add the white wine to deglaze the pan. When the wine is absorbed, add a ladleful of broth to the rice and stir until absorbed. Continue to add a ladleful at a time until all the broth has been added, stirring constantly. It's time-consuming but a labour of love. When the rice is finished, stir in some grated parmesan and Carole's secret ingredient of a final pat of butter, and lastly fold in the caprese ingredients of tomatoes, basil and bocconcini. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rest of the week

Sept 27 Turkey, avocado and cheese paninis with salad

Sept 28 Omelettes with red peppers and onions

Sept 29 Caprese risotto with salad