Today, for the first time in months, I feel like making risotto. Risotto can be flavored with a variety of vegetables, seafood, meats and seasonings. To celebrate the end of summer, I will flavor tonight’s risotto with the last of my favorite foods of the season: fresh corn, tomatoes and basil.
“Risotto,” which translates as “big rice,” is a classic from the north of Italy. It is prepared by slowly cooking, and stirring, rice in hot broth until the starch in the rice turns the broth creamy while the rice cooks tender but still has a hint of firmness in the center of each grain.
Arborio rice, available in larger supermarkets and in gourmet stores, typically is used to make risotto. It’s usually imported from Italy, although California rice growers have been marketing an excellent version.
Risotto With Fresh Corn, Tomato and Basil
It is easy to cut the kernels from the corn cobs if you first break the cobs in half. Then hold the half ears up on one end and working on a plate or shallow bowl, use a small, sharp paring knife to slice the kernels off the cob in long neat strips.
1-1/2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil leaves plus 4 whole basil leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1-1/2 cups medium-grain Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 to 5 cups canned reduced-sodium chicken broth, fat skimmed from surface, simmering in separate saucepan
2 cups fresh raw corn kernels (from 3-4 ears)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon torn basil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic and salt in small bowl. Stir and set aside at room temperature.
Combine onion and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large wide saucepan or deep skillet and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice and heat through, about 1 minute. Add wine and boil, stirring, until absorbed, about 3 minutes.
Add 1/2cup simmering broth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with flat-edged wooden spoon, until broth is almost all absorbed. Add another ladle of broth. Repeat, adding more hot broth and stirring, until risotto is creamy and rice is plump and tender with slight resistance to bite.
After 20 minutes, add half of reserved tomato mixture. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes or longer. Risotto usually takes 20 to 30 minutes total cooking time. (If you run out of broth, finish risotto with a little boiling water.)
Stir in corn, cheese, salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon into 4 large shallow bowls. Top each with spoonful of remaining tomato mixture, dividing evenly. Garnish each serving with remaining 1 tablespoon torn basil, divided evenly.
Yield: 4 servings.