Risotto con i Pomodori Freschi e il Basilico

Risotto with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • For



Appears in

Marcella's Italian Kitchen

Marcella's Italian Kitchen

By Marcella Hazan

Published 1986

  • About

Bright tomato color and frank tomato taste are the reasons for this risotto’s simple, strong, summery appeal. Embark upon it only when you can get very ripe local tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are my choice because they are less watery. The tomatoes must be peeled, but I do not blanch them to pinch off the skin because I want them to be as firm as possible when I start them cooking with sautéed onion and butter. Therefore I peel them raw. (Please for a description of this technique.)

When the tomatoes have simmered a few minutes, the rice is added and they finish cooking together. The risotto becomes colored a vivid red and exudes the effusively fresh, vibrant flavor of the tomatoes.


  • pounds firm, ripe plum tomatoes
  • 5 cups Homemade Meat Broth, or 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 5 cups water, or ¾ cup canned meat broth diluted with cups water
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • cup chopped onion
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • cups Italian Arborio rice
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, cut into very thin strips


  1. Wash the tomatoes in cold water, skin them with a peeler, and cut them into ½-inch pieces. If there are very many seeds, pick out most of them with the tip of a paring knife.
  2. Put the broth in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed pot put 2 tablespoons of the butter, the oil, and the chopped onion and turn on the heat to medium.
  4. When the onion becomes colored a pale gold, add the tomatoes with a little bit of salt and grindings of pepper. Cook, stirring from time to time, for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and stir it a few times to coat it thoroughly.
  6. Add a ladleful of broth and stir the rice constantly to wipe it away from the bottom and side of the pot. When there is no more broth in the pot, add another ladleful. Stir steadily to keep the rice from sticking at any point, adding more broth, a ladleful at a time, as required. Repeat the procedure, never ceasing stirring, until the rice is done. It should be firm but tender, without a chalky center.
  7. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the grated cheese, and the basil, stir for a minute or two, taste and correct for salt and pepper, and serve at once.