Tomato risotto is a traditional dish of Italian home cooking. It’s a very easy, but tasty and flavorful dish.
Risotto al pomodoro is an excellent recipe for family lunches or quick dinners because the ingredients are usually already in the pantry. Rice, peeled tomatoes, vegetable broth, basil and parmigiano reggiano cheese, all quality Mediterranean products.
This is a recipe that we often make for everyday meals, just like pasta with tomato sauce.
There is no specific recipe for making this risotto. As with all traditional dishes, each family has its own variations and preferences, depending on the availability of products at home and the season.
There are those who use tomato passata, those who use peeled tomatoes, and those who use fresh tomatoes. There are also those who use tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes already seasoned with garlic, onion and various spices for a richer and more flavorful taste. Finally, there are those who use vegetable broth and those who use meat broth for a more substantial dish.
The common element of all the different versions is the quality of the products. First of all, the rice must be a rice suitable for making risotto. And not all rices are! Use Carnaroli or Arborio (do not use precooked or parboiled rice!).
The broth must also be homemade with fresh ingredients.
Finally, the tomato, the main ingredient of the recipe, in whatever form you want to use it, must be of the best quality, flavorful and fragrant. We prepared the tomato risotto with peeled San Marzano tomatoes, flavored with lots of fresh basil.
The procedure is the typical one for the preparation of risotto. In this regard, you can take a look at our guide on how to cook a perfect risotto!
Let’s go step by step with our tips on how to make this delicious tomato risotto (risotto al pomodoro)!
Try other traditional Italian risottos recipes:
- Saffron Milanese risotto
- Risi e Bisi | Authentic Venetian Rice and Peas
- Creamy Italian Mushroom Risotto | Risotto ai Funghi
How to Make Tomato Risotto Recipe
- Prep Time: 5 Min
- Cook Time: 20 Min (not including the time it takes to make the broth)
- Servings: 4
Tomato Risotto Ingredients
- 350 g (3/4 pound) of Carnaroli or Arborio rice
- 1 small onion
- 400 g (~1 pound) San Marzano peeled tomatoes. We recommend Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Senese – Nocerino D.O.P. by Sapure’
- 1 liter (~4 cups) of vegetable broth made with our recipe
- 30 g (1/4 stick) of unsulted butter
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 10 fresh basil leaves + more for decoration
Step 1) – To make tomato risotto, first prepare a vegetable broth with carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and various flavorings (see our recipe). You can also prepare the broth 1 or 2 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
When it’s ready, put the broth on low heat and let it simmer while you wait to use it. The broth should be hot.
Now chop the onion finely.
Step 2) – Pour the extra virgin oil into a large saucepan. Sauté the chopped onion over a low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until it becomes glassy. Be careful not to let the onion burn or the risotto will become bitter.
Once the onion is golden, add the rice and toast over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 3) – Add a ladle of hot vegetable broth and stir.
Now add the peeled tomatoes with all their juice.
Step 4) – Mash the tomatoes with the wooden spoon so that they are crushed as much as possible.
Stir well and add another ladle of broth.
COOKING: Cook the tomato risotto over medium heat, without a lid, stirring occasionally. Carnaroli rice cooks in 18 minutes from toasting. We recommend that you TASTE the risotto to check if it’s done. If it’s too dry, add a little broth. Adjust salt to taste.
Step 5) – When almost cooked, add the chopped basil.
Step 6) – Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and grated Parmigiano Reggiano and stir.
MANTECATURA: This step is called Mantecatura. As with all risottos, the moment of mantecatura is crucial. When cooked, the risotto must be “soft”, not too dry, when you remove it from the heat. So add butter and Parmigiano. Stir and serve.
Serve the Tomato Risotto hot garnished with a few whole basil leaves.
How to Store Tomato Risotto
Like all risotto recipes, tomato risotto should be eaten immediately, warm and creamy.
If you have leftovers, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. We don’t recommend freezing it.
TIP: With the leftover tomato risotto, you can make rice croquettes, such as TOMATO ARANCINI. Add one egg and half a tablespoon of flour to the leftover risotto (of course it depends on the amount of risotto, use about 180 g/6 ounces). Form small balls and roll them in the breadcrumbs. Fry in plenty of vegetable oil.
How to Make Tomato Risotto with Fresh Tomatoes
In this recipe, we used canned peeled San Marzano tomatoes. But you can use fresh tomatoes, especially in summer when they are at their peak. All you have to do is peel them. Here is how to do it!
Use cluster or San Marzano tomatoes. The tomatoes have to be very ripe. Soak them in boiling water for two minutes so that the skin comes off easily. Then peel them.
You can also use cherry or grape tomatoes. They are really small, but so much tastier! We recommend soaking them in boiling water for a few minutes. Then put them in a food mill and puree the tomatoes. With this tomato passata you can make a very tasty tomato risotto!
TOMATO PASTE: Often, especially when using fresh tomatoes, a little tomato paste is added. This gives the risotto more color and flavor.
HERBS: You can also customize the risotto with herbs of your choice, such as parsley or thyme, or by adding some spices, such as black pepper or chili.
“Riso al Sugo” vs “Risotto al Pomodoro”
Risotto al pomodoro (tomato risotto), like all risotto recipes, is a typical first course from Northern Italy. That is, a creamy dish made by adding broth little by little and finally making the “mantecatura”.
In Southern Italy, on the other hand, there is a recipe called “riso al sugo” (rice with tomato sauce), which is really only similar in appearance. You boil the rice like a normal pasta dish and then season it with tomato sauce.
In Italy, rice is a food of the northern plains, while pasta and tomato sauce are more typical of southern Italian cuisine.
Tomato risotto can be seen as a recipe that combines the traditions of both areas.
A Tasty Variation: Tomato Risotto with Burrata
Tomato and Burrata Risotto is one of the easiest risotto recipes to make and one of the tastiest!
To make it, simply add burrata cheese to the center of the hot and creamy tomato risotto and serve. That’s it!
The Burrata gives the dish that extra touch and makes it even more delicious and creamy.
The combination of tomato risotto and burrata is so delicious that many celebrity chefs have added this dish to their menus, elevating a classic comfort food dish to gourmet status.
If you cannot find burrata, opt for stracciatella or mozzarella, shredded finely.
BURRATA is a stringy cheese typical of the Puglia region, although it is now produced throughout much of southern Italy.
What distinguishes burrata from classic mozzarella is its interior. While the two products are identical on the outside, the soft heart of stracciatella cheese and heavy cream is only revealed when the burrata is opened.
In fact, Burrata is composed of a soft shell of pasta filata (mozzarella) and a heart of stracciatella, hand-ripped pasta filata with the addition of heavy cream.
For more information about burrata read “Burrata: History, Making, and Perfect Pairings”