I'm always looking into developing easy recipes to try out, and this one definitely fits the bill. This Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Risotto recipe is both quick and easy to make but still has plenty of flavors. Best of all, it's perfect for a casual dinner party or even a romantic night in. Give it a try!
You're going to love this tomato basil risotto recipe.
We have always enjoyed making risotto, as it is our go-to dinner when we really have no clue what to have for dinner and just have an onion and maybe one or two fresh vegetables in the kitchen.
Our mushrooms risotto is one that we do either with dried mushrooms or fresh ones, just like this one.
We also make the famous Risotto Alla Milanese, which only needs a fresh onion; the rest we can find in our pantry.
It can also make a great side dish, in small portions.
Why you will love it?
You can make risotto with ingredients you have available in your pantry. Fresh ingredients needed: one onion and optionally fresh basil.
- It takes less than 30 minutes to make.
- Everything is made in one skillet.
- It is cheap.
- No fancy cookware is needed.
- It is a crowd-pleaser.
- Naturally gluten-free and vegan.
- Apt for most of the dietary restrictions.
- Carnarolli rice (or arborio rice)
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- Garlic cloves
- Nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese if vegetarian)
- Vegetable broth
- Olive oil
- Dry white wine
- Fresh basil
Optional: ground black pepper and fresh cherry tomatoes.
Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic.
Put the vegetable stock to simmer with the chopped dried tomatoes on a medium saucepan.
Make sure you keep using hot broth throughout the cooking process to keep the rice temperature constant.
In a medium or large skillet, stir the chopped onion with two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat until the onion looks translucent. Then add garlic.
Add the carnarolli rice, and stir frequently with a wooden spoon until it dries out.
Cook stirring occasionally
Pour the white wine (⅓ cup white wine), until the wine is completely absorbed.
Add tomato paste to the chopped hydrated chopped tomatoes, and stir frequently.
As soon as it dries, pour about one cup of vegetable stock. Keep stirring constantly.
Reduce to low heat, add the tomato paste, keep adding the vegetable broth and let it be absorbed by the rice. As soon as you notice that the rice starts to look dry.
Add the nutritional yeast, let it melt while stirring the tomato risotto, and add the basil leaves.
Top tip: Remember to keep stirring frequently while you add the hot broth throughout the whole cooking process, and add more as it gets absorbed by the rice; this is where the secret to make risotto is.
Finally, add some extra basil leaves, and stir until the rice is cooked al dente. Drizzle some extra olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Let the risotto rice sit for a couple of minutes before serving to consolidate the flavors.
Optionally serve the risotto with extra nutritional yeast, homemade vegan parmesan cheese, or grated cheese.
Carnarolli vs Arborio rice
As they say here in Italy, the best risotto is made with carnarolli rice, but arborio rice is also acceptable short-grain rice.
In fact, before arriving to live in Northern Italy, where risotto was born, I used to make risotto with arborio rice until I was told repeatedly that it was the second option if you could not find Carnarolli rice by any means.
I tried to compare the two several times, and yes, I can tell, that you will definitely make a creamier risotto if you go for Carnarolli.
You can use fresh tomatoes, like cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or San Marzano tomatoes. Just make sure you pick juicy tomatoes.
I often do, but this recipe was built with two things in mind:
- Making a delicious meal, with a minimal amount of fresh produce, for those days, when your fridge is almost empty, but you still have an onion around.
- Making this delicious tomato risotto recipe, even in wintertime, we cannot make a fresh summery tomato risotto.
I often add a couple of charred cherry tomatoes to our tomato risotto when I still have some fresh tomatoes.
If you are using fresh tomatoes, like San Marzano tomatoes, dice and add to the risotto immediately after adding wine.
Note on dried tomatoes
Here in Italy where we buy our tomatoes at the farmer's market, there are often different kinds. We usually go for the cheaper ones that are about 7.5 euros (8.5 dollars) for 2.2 lbs (1 Kg), since the other varieties cost twice as much.
The last time we asked the nona (granny seller), she recommended we keep going for the cheaper option because they are more "Saporito" = tasty.
The other ones are more delicate in flavor and sweet.
BUT: you have to be careful, sun-dried tomatoes are often made with less or more salt, and these are SALTY, so we don0t use any salt on our risotto, as they have plenty.
So, adjust salt and pepper to your liking, at the end of the cooking process.
You can also make this red sauce risotto with tomato sauce if you don't have concentrated tomato paste but have some Italian passata.
The tomato sauce will be consumed and reduced as you cook the risotto, creating the same effect.
You can use dried basil instead of fresh basil to make this tomato basil risotto, the result will be slightly different, as the fresh basil aroma is unique.
Still, you can definitely replace it with one tablespoon of the dried stuff.
If you are using tomato puree instead of tomato paste, you can also go for a tomato basil puree, so you have your basil fixed for additional convenience.
We have chosen to use nutritional yeast to make this tomato risotto vegan, and nutritional yeast is the best vegan tool to get that cheesy flavor that we all love.
If you are a vegetarian, you can replace it with the same quantity of grated parmesan cheese.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Same as above. Risotto is usually made with butter at the beginning of the process and a little butter at the end for the "mantecatura" (to give the finished dish an even creamier texture).
We use olive oil to keep the tomato risotto vegan because olive oil pairs well with tomatoes and fresh basil.
Tomatoes and tomato-based products have been linked to better skin health and decreased heart disease and cancer risk.
Tomatoes can improve a variety of foods, but they may also benefit your entire body. These nutrients can also help your skin's health and decrease wrinkles and inflammation.
But it is fully replaceable with vegan butter or margarine.
It is recommended to use a dry white wine variety such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot grigio. Although not considered a dry wine, I have successfully made my risottos with Ribolla Gialla, a mineral, fresh, and slightly fruity wine variety.
How to serve
We love scraping the goodness out of our plates, as every Italian does. Bread will always be on an Italian table... a good one.
Health benefits of tomatoes
Tomatoes' health benefits include healthy skin, cholesterol reduction, and cancer prevention.
Eating tomatoes may help protect against some cancers. In a study of 40,000 people, those who ate more than seven servings of tomato-based foods per week had a 28 percent lower risk of prostate cancer compared with those who consumed less than one serving per week.
Other research has found that Lycopene – a compound found in tomatoes – may help fight heart disease and cancer.
More about the health benefits of tomatoes.
More risotto recipes
Although considered a "primo piatto" or appetizer in Italy, risottos make the perfect vegetarian main dish.
Risottos are put together in 30 minutes or less with a few ingredients, so it is a great idea to have a good repertoire of risotto recipes.
These are a couple of our favorites also on this site.
The Risotto alla Milanese, is a great option for those who like Traditional Italian Cuisine.
Fall season? Why don't you put your mushrooms to good use with a Creamy Mushroom Risotto?
Creamy Tomato Risotto Recipe
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste organic tomato concentrate
- 2 oz dried tomatoes 50 grams, chopped
- 1 cup carnarolli rice or arborio rice, 7 oz, 200 grams
- 1 onion chopped, or 3 spring onions
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 5 cups vegetable broth hot
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus, optional extra to serve
- 5 tablespoons nutritional yeast or homemade vegan parmesan cheese
- 8 leaves fresh basil more to garnish
- ⅓ cup dry white wine optional
Optional for garnishing:
- 10 cherry tomatoes charred
- salt and pepper to taste or chili pepper flakes
Prepare the vegetable stock
- Put your vegetable stock to simmer. If using granulated store-bought veggie stock, bring the water to boil and prepare according to packaging instructions. Hydrate the chopped dried tomatoes by adding them to the broth.
Prepare the onions and garlic
- Peel and chop your onions. Finely chop the onions. Mince the garlic cloves.
Making the risotto (about 15-20 minutes)
- On medium heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil, stir-fry the onions until translucent, and then add the garlic.
- Add the risotto rice, stir until lightly toasted, add wine or ⅓ cup of vegetable broth, and stir until completely absorbed.
- With a colander, skim the hydrated chopped dried tomatoes from the simmering vegetable stock and add them to the rice.
- Stir in the vegetable broth, little by little, stirring frequently, and then add the tomato paste. Keep adding more veggie broth, ½ cup at a time. Add more as soon as the rice absorbs it.
- On minute ten, add nutritional yeast or (homemade vegan parmesan), followed by fresh basil.
Garnish and serve.
- When the rice is 'al dente', add one last tablespoon of olive oil and stir.
- Remove from the heat, let it sit for 2-5 minutes, and serve. Garnish with fresh basil, Vegan Parm Cheese, and freshly cracked black pepper or chili flakes to add some heat.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.
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