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Tomato & Asparagus Risotto

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Here’s a risotto recipe that is healthy, not indulgent. It’s creamy and smooth, like any risotto should be, but there’s no cheese or dairy in sight. This makes a great lunch or side dish. It’s naturally vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free. Perfect use for that spring, framer’s market asparagus!

dOe1x

Back in college, I had a great tomato risotto recipe. I can remember preparing it on my parents range, along with some chicken. It was just as yummy as the cheese-laden risottos I often made at that time, but so much healthier. I’ve searched far and wide for that recipe and have yet to find it. I finally decided it was time to stop the search and use my cooking skills to come up with my own tomato risotto recipe.

Tomato-Risotto-With-Asparagus-Gluten-Free

I’ve tested this recipe a few times, with a few different ingredient variations, and it seems to be foolproof. Add some broth and a tomato-y liquid. Stir. Keep stirring. Add more liquid. It’s simple. For the broth, I’ve used stock from a carton as well as Better Than Buillion + water, with identical results. Homemade stock would be great here, too!

To get the tomato flavor you can use a plain tomato sauce or a pasta sauce. The pasta sauce had tons of flavor from the herbs and spices, but that trade off was a more processed meal with higher calories. When I used plain old tomato sauce I added a bit of Italian seasoning (I used Penzey’s Frozen Pizza Seasoning that I just got a few weeks ago), just for fun.

Tomato-Risotto-with-Asparagus-Close

Serve with asparagus on top like I did or stir the asparagus spears into the risotto. The crisp asparagus with the smooth risotto do go wonderfully together. Pair with a clean eating protein of choice and you’ll have a well rounded, clean, healthy, meal!

Tomato-Risotto-Tall-Gluten-Free

Tomato & Asparagus Risotto

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 2 c chicken or vegetable stock (read label to verify that it is gluten free)
  • 20 oz tomato sauce or spaghetti/pizza sauce (read label to verify that it is gluten free)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots (may replace with an onion)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, cut into spears
Directions
  1. Finely mince the garlic and shallots.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium to large sized skillet, over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the garlic and shallots. Cook for about 5, stirring frequently, until both garlic and shallots have softened some.
  3. Add the rice to the skillet, and stir very frequently. Watch for the edges of the rice to turn translucent.
  4. When the majority of the rice has turned translucent on the edges, add about half a cup of the stock. Keep stirring. It will likely absorb into the rice very quickly. When most of the rice is absorbed, stir in another half cup of stock. Keep stirring frequently (if not constantly) while the rice absorbs the stock.
  5. For the rest of the cooking time, alternate between adding tomato sauce and stock each time the liquid the liquid has absorbed, stirring very frequently. The liquid will most likely be absorbing slower than it was at the beginning, but keep adding it!
  6. When you’re on the final liquid addition, it’s time to cook the asparagus. Lay it in a small skillet in a single layer, and fill the skillet with water, just enough to cover the asparagus. Heat to boil, and then reduce to medium heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the asparagus is soft, but still has a bit of a crunch. Test firmness using a fork.
  7. Drain the asparagus in a strainer. Either stir it into the finished risotto or just lay it on top.
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Lemon Risotto

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Risotto has the reputation of being difficult to make. All that stirring.

Lemon Risotto 1

My introduction to risotto was through my first boyfriend’s mother.

Oh, high school relationships.

I was a senior in high school at the time and had done some cooking before, but this woman made things far more fancy and complicated than I was used to at home. My parents weren’t bad cooks or anything like that, but they didn’t enjoy cooking the same way she did. Naturally, people who enjoy cooking tend to spend more time in the kitchen creating intricate dishes than just your normal weeknight dinner.

Anyway, risotto. This boyfriend’s mom had told me how complicated risotto was. That it took so long to make. And the stirring, so much stirring. Me, being competitive, thought “psh, I can do that”. I went online to the Food Network, printed off a risotto recipe and tried my hand at it.

Lemon Risotto 2

That first risotto was a success, and it quickly became one of my favorite foods! It’s a comfort food for me, really. Risotto is so smooth and creamy, yet it fits my qualifications of not having any of the fatty, overly processed type ingredients (I don’t even add any cheese to my risotto anymore. It creamy enough as it is, and you really won’t notice the cheese is gone)! Sure, risotto is essentially a fancy white rice – not the healthiest, but definitely not the worst. I just eat it in moderation. The evening I made and photographed this particular risotto I also had some oven baked tilapia and some vegetable (asparagus, I think).

I topped my risotto with a bit of extra spinach. Other garnishes could be freshly grated parmesan or mozzarella, or parsley, oregano, or basil.

Lemon Risotto 3

Lemon Risotto

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2/3 c arborio rice
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 3 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 c chopped spinach
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is warm add the garlic and shallot and cook about 3-4 minutes, until soft.
  2. Add the arborio rice. Let this mixture cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until the ends of the grains of rice are translucent.
  3. Pour in the lemon juice and let it absorb, stirring frequently.
  4. When the lemon juice has absorbed add about 1/2 c of the chicken or vegetable stock. Again, stir this frequently. When the liquid is mostly absorbed, add another half cup of broth and repeat until all of the broth has been added and absorbed. This will take some time and lots of stirring.
  5. Finally, stir in the chopped spinach and let the risotto cook for just a minute or two more while the spinach wilts.
  6. Optional: garnish risotto with extra spinach, freshly grated cheese, or herbs before serving.

 

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