Twice as Tasty

Sunshine Risotto

Bursting with golden tomatoes and summer squash, you can make this risotto with fresh or frozen ingredients

By Julie Laing
Photo by Julie Laing.

I developed this risotto recipe one gloomy winter day, when I dug a bag of grated summer squash and one of whole yellow pear tomatoes from my freezer. It was like putting a burst of sunlight on the dinner table, so I named the combination Sunshine Risotto.

When I make this vegetarian risotto from frozen ingredients, I pull the tomatoes, squash and vegetable stock from the freezer the prior day and let them defrost in the fridge. I then place the defrosted tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl, pierce them gently with a fork and let them sit so that some juice separates from the solids. I stir the juice in while I’m adding warmed stock. When I add the defrosted tomatoes toward the end of the cooking time, they deflate and almost melt into the dish.

The combination is delicious, but the risotto is just as tasty with fresh ingredients and looks prettier in photos, with its chunks of tomato and slivers of fresh herbs. Fresh cherry-sized tomatoes, when halved or quartered, will hold their shape, but larger heirloom ones can be chopped into the dish instead. Whether you use fresh or frozen ingredients, the risotto-cooking process is the same.

As with Shrimp and Green Vegetable Risotto, you can alter the vegetables in this recipe, but I stick with ones that maintain the golden summertime theme. Replace some of the summer squash or tomatoes with corn kernels, yellow wax beans, or yellow and orange sweet peppers. Slivered squash or nasturtium blossoms create a bright garnish.

Sunshine Risotto

Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1-1/2 cups Arborio rice

5 cups vegetable stock, warmed

1 pound yellow summer squash, grated (about 2 cups)

12 ounces yellow and/or orange tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon slivered basil

1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large, heavy-bottom pot, heat the oil over medium heat; add the onion and sauté for about two minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add the rice and stir for one minute, until coated. Add about 1 cup of warm stock and simmer uncovered, stirring every couple of minutes, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue the process, adding 1/2 to 1 cup of stock at a time.

After about 20 minutes, when the last of the stock has been absorbed, fold in the grated summer squash. Stir in the tomatoes and the wine, if using, and cook for two to three minutes, until the wine is absorbed. Stir in the butter and Parmesan until they melt into the rice, and then fold in the basil and parsley. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Turn off the heat and let the risotto rest one to two minutes before serving.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.