Tomato risotto + magic tomato water

Living in Asia makes you eat a lot of Asian food. It's (often) cheap, delicious, convenient and sometimes adventurous or dangerous. But having so much Asian food for the past 1,5 year made me crave for Western food. This ends up in me making lots of Dutch food like 'hutspot' or 'gehaktballen' and Italian food like pasta or Panzanella. Except for risotto

I tried to make risotto several times a couple of years ago and it was horrible. Dry, uncooked, flavorless. I know it is one of the most easiest Italian dishes to make but I just couldn't succeed. (I think it was the little Asian in me that said: "y u poring so much funny water into the rice?").  I told myself I should keep risotto to the Giovanni's and the Francesca's in the world and never try again. Until last week.

It was when I was wandering around my favorite book store and came across a book with mouthwatering photos of Italian food and yes, risotto's, I decided then and there I had to face my risotto fear and try to make it again. I took me 3 times and a scared boyfriend around dinner time, but I succeeded! 

I stumbled on this risotto recipe using tomato water as stock instead of a regular chicken stock. I never made tomato water before but this made all the difference in the world!!! This magic tomato water can replace stock in a variety of dishes.

The recipe does require some work: you need to prepare the tomato water and oil-poached tomatoes before, to add later in the risotto. Gah, but I promise you: it's SO worth it. I could eat this dish every week. And my kitchen smelled like tomato infused garlic all week, which I like.

Magic Tomato Water

recipe from Bon Appetit

makes about 2 cups


1 1/2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes (about 3)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 medium shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt

How to

Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth; set over a large bowl. Pulse tomatoes, shallots, garlic, basil, cilantro, parsley, vinegar, and salt in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

Transfer mixture to prepared sieve. Cover and chill at least 12 hours. (Now BA advices you to not stir or press on solids, or the tomato water will be cloudy. Since i'm a stirry person and my Asian roots and all, I stirred. And I pressed. Because I don't care if my water is cloudy and I wanted all the good stuff to come out, leaving nothing behind. But if you do mind cloudiness: you know you should leave the stirring and pressing). Discard solids; cover tomato water and chill.

You can make the tomato water 3 days before. Keep it chilled!

Oil-Poached Tomatoes

yes, recipe from Bon Appetit

makes 4 servings


1 head of garlic, cloves separated
2 sprigs rosemary
sprigs thyme
1 cup olive oil
1 pound plum tomatoes (about 6), halved, cored (I couldn't find plum tomatoes so I used the tomatoes I had left; cherry tomatoes. I think you should stick with the plum ones because they are meatier)
1 tsp. kosher salt

How you should make it:

Preheat oven to 300°. Toss tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and thyme sprigs, oil, and salt in a large baking dish.

Bake tomatoes until they are soft and skins begin to shrivel, 35–45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then slip off skins. Discard herbs.

How I made it:

Now, since I don't own an oven yet, I had to improvise. I used a small pan, with closed lid and let all the ingredients shiver softly for about 30 minutes. Worked for me. This might help you if you're an temporarily oven less person too. 

This can be made 5 days ahead. Keep the tomatoes chilled.

And finally; Tomato Risotto

another recipe from Bon Appetit

makes 6 servings


1 small onion, chopped
1½ cups arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup Tomato Water (1st recipe from this post)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan plus more for serving
6 Oil-Poached Tomato halves, coarsely chopped (2nd recipe from this post)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt (I used pink Himalaya salt) and freshly ground black pepper


Bring 6 cups water to a boil over medium heat; remove from heat, cover and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup water and cook, stirring often, until water is absorbed. Continue adding water by ½-cupfuls, stirring often, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite, 20–25 minutes. (You may not need all the water).

Mix in Tomato Water, butter, and 2 Tbsp. Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring often, until liquid is mostly absorbed, about 2 minutes. Mix in Oil-Poached Tomatoes.

Serve risotto topped with more Parmesan and combine with a nice glass of dry white.