Wine With . . . Tomato and Corn Risotto by Paul Lukacs and Marguerite Thomas
Here we are in mid-summer with the first wave of ripe tomatoes on our roof-deck garden storming in like frontrunners crossing the marathon finishing line. Already we are feeling that sense of summery panic as the Early Girls and the first heirloom varieties plump up and redden on the vine, begging to be picked and immediately savored. What to do with this bounty? How many different ways of serving and eating tomatoes can we come up with? Yes, there is always canning, and freezing, and oven drying, but nothing in the world—nothing!—rivals the sweet-tangy, juicy deliciousness of a freshly plucked tomato.
We’ve been making all the usual things with our plentiful harvest this year: tomato salads with feta, and with fresh mozzarella; Gazpacho; BLTs; fresh tomato sauce for pasta. Most recently we cooked up a new dish – a fresh tomato risotto, to which we added a generous fistful of corn--the other gastronomic treasure of summer. We incorporated onion, plenty of garlic, and a touch of red bell pepper into the basic dish, giving the risotto enough heartiness to stand up to a variety of wines. We served it as a main course followed by a big green salad, but it would make a delicious first course, or a side dish with just about any kind of grilled or roasted meat.
Tomato and Corn Risotto
For the tomatoes:
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2-3 fresh ears of corn, shucked *
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
*If the corn is very fresh it can go in to the mix raw. If it is less than farm-fresh, add it to the onion and red pepper mixture described below rather than mixing with the tomatoes.
For the risotto:
1 small onion, minced
½ red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, minced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water)
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for passing at the table
Freshly ground pepper
In a bowl, combine tomatoes, corn kernels, garlic, olive oil, basil and salt. Mix well and set aside.
In a large sauté pan cook the onion and pepper in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute or two. Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil then reduce it to a very low simmer. Add the rice to the sauté pan with the onion, and stir it over medium high heat for two or three minutes. Pour in the cup of wine and stir until most of it is absorbed into the rice. Add a ladleful of warm broth, and stir for a few minutes until it is mostly absorbed. Continue in this fashion, stirring in ladlefuls of broth one after the other (adjusting the heat as needed) until the rice is tender but still firm. Add the tomato mixture and continue cooking for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the 2/3 cup Parmesan. Spoon into individual bowls and serve at once.
Serves two as a main course; four as a first course.