Tomato and Basil Risotto

Tomato Risotto is a versatile dish suitable as an accompaniment to many mains and, with a little variation, can be provided for most diets including: Fodmap, Gluten Free and Vegan.


With tomatoes in abundant supply here in Zambia I am always exploring new ways to include them in our meals. This particular risotto, being simple to make and a delicious starch and vegetable combination, has become a standby.
The recipe recommends fresh tomatoes; however, substitute these with home cooked and frozen tomatoes, if you have them, or tinned tomatoes that have been chopped into small pieces.
Like most risotto dishes this one can be cooked and served immediately or par-cooked in advance. When pre-cooking follow the method to “LADEL in 1/2 -1 cup of water, stir and cook”. Cook over a medium heat, for about 5 minutes, until the majority of the water has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside; cool and refrigerate. To complete for serving follow the remaining cooking steps until the rice is al dente and creamy. This will be approximately 15 minutes.


Diets for which Tomato and Basil Risotto are suitable:

Diabetic, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Fodmap, Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Nut Free, Vegetarian and Vegan.


Preparation: 10 mins | Cook: 45 mins | Serves: 4
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small (1/2 cup) onion, finely chopped (not Fodmap, see notes)*
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (not Fodmap, see notes)*
220 gm (1 cup) Arborio rice
500 gm (1 lb) tomatoes
2-3 large sprigs basil**
1 teaspoon thyme leaves**
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp salt***
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable stock or water***
200 gm (3/4 cup) ripe tomatoes, finely diced
fresh basil, slivered
60 gm (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese (optional, not Dairy Free or Vegan)


FRY the onion over a medium heat until softened.
ADD the rice and garlic and stir continuously for 2 minutes. (The rice should not brown.)
CHOP finely or grate the tomato, 500 gm. (Grating the tomato will give a smoother texture to the risotto.)
ADD the tomato, basil, thyme, salt and pepper.
COOK the rice and tomato mix, stirring regularly, until it becomes quite dry. (The time will be dependent on the moisture content of the tomatoes — 5-10 minutes.)
ADD the wine and cook for about 5 minutes until the mix becomes drier and requires more liquid.
LADEL in 1/2 -1 cup of water***, stir and cook. The liquid should cover the rice and should be bubbling.
COOK until the liquid is absorbed and add more. Stir regularly, not continuously. (This helps create a creamy, smooth texture for the rice.)
CONTINUE adding liquid until the risotto is al dente (tender but still a little chewy.) This will be approximately 20 minutes from when you add the wine.
TASTE and season as necessary.
ADD the diced tomatoes, water if necessary, and stir. (Add more liquid and stir if the mixture is not creamy.)
SPRINKLE with basil and grated Parmesan, if using.
SERVE hot or warm in a large dish.


– With grilled fish, chicken or vegetables.
– As a light meal with Parmesan cheese and a green salad.


* Fodmap diet replace the onion with green tops of spring onion or chives.
** Fresh herbs are preferable or a small quantity of dried herbs.
*** Stock, suitable for the diet, can be used, however, it is not necessary when flavoursome tomatoes and fresh herbs are used. When using a stock salt should be added at the end of cooking, after tasting the finished dish.
**** Top with roasted pine nuts (no Nut Free) as a protein source for Dairy Free and Vegan diets.

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