What Is Tomato Risotto? (with pictures)

Angela Farrer
Angela Farrer
Yellow tomatoes.
Yellow tomatoes.

Tomato risotto is an Italian rice dish that is usually cooked in a mixture of melted butter, creamy broth, and sometimes a measured amount of olive oil. It is traditionally flavored with tomatoes as well as onions, garlic, and a garnish of Parmesan cheese. The types of rice that most authentic recipes require are those designated for risotto, namely a few different long- or short-grained varieties that are relatively high in starch for the best risotto texture. Cooking with tomatoes for this dish often involves pureeing canned or fresh sliced tomatoes together with a measured amount of tomato paste. This popular vegetable dish can often come in recipe versions that are rich in nutrients and lower in calories than some others.

Different types of rice, including risotto rice.
Different types of rice, including risotto rice.

Varieties of vegetable risotto are frequently served as beginning courses in traditional Italian cooking, though some home cooks also like to make tomato risotto as a side dish for seafood or other types of meat recipes. One common challenge for newcomers to cooking risotto is to achieve the correct tender rice texture without over- or under-cooking this ingredient. Risotto rice's starch content allows it to quickly absorb the hot mixture of broth and melted butter; close attention to cooking time is generally essential to keep the rice from becoming too soft and clumping together. Some cooks believe this type of rice cooks the best in a skillet with a mixture of melted butter and olive oil while others prefer to use butter alone.

Grated Parmesan cheese is often used to top risotto.
Grated Parmesan cheese is often used to top risotto.

Once the rice has been cooked correctly, most tomato risotto recipes next call for adding the chopped onions and minced garlic to the skillet. This step is where some cooks can accidentally overcook the risotto rice further; a common trick to avoid this problem is to cook the garlic and onions beforehand in a separate pan at a lower temperature until they are softened but not browned. The final added ingredient to this tomato risotto recipe is the mixture of tomato puree and broth with some seasonings of choice such as basil or oregano.

Fresh basil leaves are often used to season tomato risotto.
Fresh basil leaves are often used to season tomato risotto.

The cook time for all finished tomato risotto ingredients can slightly vary depending on the desired thickness. This recipe often needs to be cooked without a cover for an additional 10 to 15 minutes after the rice, broth, tomatoes, and other ingredients are mixed together in the skillet. Thicker risotto can result from adding a few minutes to this time, but not too much longer so as to avoid softening the rice.

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    • Yellow tomatoes.
      Yellow tomatoes.
    • Different types of rice, including risotto rice.
      Different types of rice, including risotto rice.
    • Grated Parmesan cheese is often used to top risotto.
      Grated Parmesan cheese is often used to top risotto.
    • Fresh basil leaves are often used to season tomato risotto.
      Fresh basil leaves are often used to season tomato risotto.
    • Oregano is often used to season tomato risotto.
      Oregano is often used to season tomato risotto.
    • Tomato puree is one of the final ingredients in tomato risotto.
      Tomato puree is one of the final ingredients in tomato risotto.