Family Meals: Easy-Peasy Risotto Recipe

I love risotto and I love making it. I know some people really struggle to make it, but once you’ve cracked it then it’s a really handy thing to add to your repertoire. It’s one of our “nothing in the cupboard” meals and great for using up odds and sods in your fridge.

We have two favourites in our house. Tomato risotto and aubergine risotto. We cheese them up a bit more to make it more toddler friendly as he adores cheese. I’ve been asked a few times for my risotto recipe so I’ve decided to blog it. It’s fairly standard really. Here’s my basic risotto recipe with both tomato and aubergine options. It feeds about 4 and any leftovers (pah!) can always be turned into arancini the next day.

Family Meals: Easy-Peasy Risotto Recipe
Tomato Risotto

Finely chop an onion and fry gently until soft in some olive oil. Add a crushed clove of garlic (or more if you like garlic) and cook for a minute. At this point I add the risotto rice. If I’m being sensible I weigh it (250g) but mostly just use about half a 500g packet. Stir the rice and cook it for a couple of minutes. Add a small glass of white wine if you have it open, but I tend to use a smaller amount of dry vermouth as we rarely drink wine and the vermouth works just as well.

Stir through and then start adding hot stock. I use veg stock but you can use chicken if you’re that way inclined. At this point I usually add my tomato or aubergine, but more of that later. Keep stirring and loving your risotto, adding stock a ladle at a time until the rice is cooked to how you like it. Give it a taste and check for seasoning, add salt, pepper and I like chilli flakes to your taste. Add some grated cheese (we use Pecorino and cheddar, as like I said, the boy loves it cheesy, but add as much or as little as you like), stir through and take off the heat, let it rest for a few minutes.

Tomato Risotto recipe

In a frying pan I chop fresh, good quality tomatoes in a dab of butter, usually some cherry tomatoes and some vine tomatoes. As they start to release their juice I add salt, pepper, a touch of sugar to bring out the natural sweetness and some fresh or dried herbs. I usually go for dried oregano and some mixed herbs.

Once the tomatoes are collapsed I pick out some of the skins. It’s a personal preference, I don’t mind them but some do. Then at the point where I start adding stock I chuck in the tomatoes.

You should note that as the tomatoes are very wet and juicy you really won’t need to add as much stock as you normally would. So do go easy.

You might want to add some tomato purée to the risotto if you think your tomatoes need a flavour boost, just don’t forget to cook the purée out.

If you like you can add some fresh spinach towards the end and stir through until wilted. I love spinach and it’s so good for you.

Aubergine Risotto recipe

I tend to buy a few aubergines when I see them cheap, prep them and freeze them so there’s always a speedy risotto ingredient available.

Finely dice your aubergine and fry in some olive oil until cooked through and soft. (This is the point where I freeze them, usually in 200g portions).

Add the aubergine to the risotto when you start adding the stock so some of the aubergine flavour imparts itself on the rice.

It’s a really lovely, subtle recipe. I often use mozzarella instead of cheddar because I think it works slightly better, but in terms of cheese just chuck in whatever floats your boat.

So that’s my basic risotto recipe. It’s really easy and there’s no need to be afraid of it. Give it a try. Although I’ve only blogged my two favourites once you’ve got the method then you can try it with other ingredients.

What’s your favourite risotto recipe?

Frugal Finds: Ravishing Roasted Tomatoes

Like most people these days we live on a budget. We try to eat like kings on a
paupers pay packet, so when I spotted some really good looking vine tomatoes on the Aldi Super Six offer I couldn’t resist. All at the pocket-friendly price of 69p, I greedily bought 6 packets. 

My plan was to roast them to go with a meal of quiche and salad. Now that is a lot of roasted tomatoes for one meal for three people, but being the frugalista I am, I had grand plans for the leftovers.

This is a great way to take care of a glut of tomatoes if you grow your own, or to take advantage if you stumble across a bargain in the green grocers or Aldi.

Frugal Finds: Ravishing Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes
Halve and remove the core from your tomatoes, lay them cut side up in a roasting tin, season with salt and pepper, I sprinkled over fresh thyme and oregano, but dried herbs would be fine. Nestle in some cloves of garlic, still in their skins, drizzle over some olive oil and roast in a hot oven for about 40 minutes or until they’ve semi-collapsed and oozing with their juices.

At this point they’re done. I love them on hot buttered toast fresh from the oven but I had other plans for my hot tray of loveliness.

As I’d roasted so many – two trays worth, I tipped the tomatoes and their juices, skin and all in the food processor, I squeezed the garlic from it’s skin and blitzed the lot. After checking the seasoning I decanted the roasted tomato sauce into storage containers. I’ve now got a litre of gorgeous roasted tomato sauce sat in the fridge waiting for another day.

So for my minimal effort I’ve got the following meals from my roasted tomatoes:

  • Sneaky, cheeky lunch of roast tomatoes on toast
  • Side dish to go with our evening meal of quiche and salad
  • Spaghetti and meatballs in roasted tomato sauce
  • Homemade pizza using the sauce as a tomato base
  • Tomato and mozzarella risotto
  • Plus a batch of sauce for the freezer for a rainy day

That’s not bad for £4.14 worth of tomatoes, a few herbs, some garlic and not a lot of effort. It really is worth trying, in our house tomatoes form the basis of a lot of meals and the deep, more intense flavour of the roasted tomatoes is something else.

What would you use the sauce for?