Summer Tomato Risotto

My own tomatoes, which I’ve only recently started growing myself, are ripening on the vine. I don’t have much land or even enough room in my backyard to plant anything (since my backyard mostly consists of a brick patio). A few years ago, I was visiting my brother and sister-in-law and my sister-in-law showed me a jungle of tomato plants in pots on their second floor deck -- which they planted there to keep the deer away. I was impressed with the quality and quanity of their tomatoes and that they were sucessfully growing them in such a small area. It inspired me to take a stab at planting tomatoes in big pots in my backyard.  I wouldn’t say I am growing prize winning tomatoes but I am very proud of them and I think they are the tastiest tomatoes in the world. I don’t want to be overly dramatic but nurturing, growing, and eating these tomatoes have been the best part of my summer. Here is a picture of my very first homegrown tomato in a pot in my backyard. 
I have been using my tomatoes to make fresh canned tomato sauce or to make the Grandinetti family's famous insalata pomodoro. Today, however, I wanted to make something different.  I remembered that I had this recipe for summer tomato risotto that I found about 6 years ago published in The Wall Street Journal. I have always thought this recipe was good. However,  when made with fresh, juicy homegrown tomatoes, this risotto is perfect and tastes truly phenomenal. 

Adapted from recipe by Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, published in WSJ June 25 - 26, 2011


Makes 6 servings




  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced small 
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus extra for seasoning 
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4-6 cups water 
  • 1 pound juicy, ripe tomatoes 
  • 2 stalks celery 
  • 2 cups Carnaroli or arborio rice 
  • 4 tablespoons basil, chopped medium-fine 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved



Step 1: Set a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Sweat onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Step 2: In another pot, bring water to a simmer.
Step 3: While water heats up and onions cook, juice tomatoes and celery. If you don't have a juicer, pulse tomatoes and celery in a food processor or blender until liquefied. Push through fine mesh strainer, reserving juice and discarding solids.
Step 4: Turn onion pot's heat up to medium-high and stir rice into the sautéed onions. Toast 2 minutes, or until grains are hot and opaque.
Step 5: Deglaze pot with 1 cup white wine. Stir until wine is absorbed and season with 2 teaspoons salt. Adjust heat to keep risotto at a steady simmer. Add 1-2 cups water and continue to stir often.
Step 6: Once liquid is absorbed, add another 1-2 cups water and continue to stir regularly.
Step 7: When rice has cooked for about 15 minutes, or once it is five minutes shy of al dente, stir in tomato juice. Cook, while stirring, 4 to 6 additional minutes, or until risotto is creamy and rice is al dente.
Step 8: Quickly stir in 4 tablespoons olive oil, basil and parmesan. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
Step 9: In a small bowl, mix cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and pinch of salt.
Step 10: Garnish risotto with tomato-oil mixture. Serve immediately.