Creamy Tomato, Basil & Parmesan Risotto

Gayle McLeod | May 29, 2016

Granted, risotto may not be the first thing that jumps to mind when dreaming up an easy, family-friendly weeknight meal. Using our creamy & richly flavoured soups as a base trims several ingredients to prepare, and brings risotto into the realm of weeknight possibilities. As if that wasn't enough, this recipe uses a technique I found on that takes risotto from high maintenance to nearly hands-off, leaving you plenty of time to prepare a quick-cooking protein, and serve a complete & delicious meal in about 30 minutes flat. 

Serves 4-6


1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1 3/4 cups Intense Natural Chicken Stock, slightly warmed

3 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely diced

1 litre container Fresh Tomato & Basil Bisque, thawed

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

salt & pepper, to taste

1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped 

Recipe for "Herbaceous Prawns" (details below)


Put the rice and stock in a medium bowl and agitate well with a whisk to remove the starch. Strain the rice through a sieve over a large bowl or measuring cup to reserve the stock. Allow the rice to drain for a few minutes while you move on to the next steps. Add all but 1 cup of the Fresh Tomato & Basil Bisque to the reserved chicken stock.

In a large heavy bottom sauté pan, warm the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides; add the rice. Keep the rice moving with a wooden spoon and cook until the grains turn a golden blond colour and give off a nutty aroma. Add the minced garlic and shallots to the rice and cook for about 1 minute.

Give the stock/bisque mixture a thorough stir and pour the entire amount into the toasted rice. Increase the heat to high until simmering, then shake the pan and stir once to evenly distribute the rice. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.

{This is the prefect time to prep and cook a couple of sustainably caught halibut fillets or cod filets or large prawns. Read on for details on the Herbaceous Gremolata Prawns that are crowning the risotto in the photo. So good.}

Lift the lid and shake the pan to redistribute the rice again. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the rice is tender with a little bite – al dente. Add the remaining 1 cup of bisque and increase the heat to high. Stir and shake the pan gently until the risotto is creamy – this will only take a minute. Turn off the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley if using. 

Herbaceous Prawns:

Without measuring, I whipped up a bright, tangy, herb-filled gremolata that I used to gently cook several tiger prawns to top this risotto. It was so simple, I don't think a recipe is really necessary. I used what I had on hand, and you can too. It will be just as delicious with any combination of fresh herbs.

For the gremolata: 2 cloves garlic, a handful of fresh Italian parsley, several fresh basil leaves, fennel fronds (I happen to have some, but fresh dill would be great), about a tablespoon of drained capers – chop everything well then add the zest and juice of one lemon, a splash of red wine vinegar and drizzle in enough olive oil to make a loose sauce. Taste and finish with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

For the prawns: warm a sauce pan over medium low heat and about five minutes before the risotto is finished, add a couple spoonfuls of the gremolata to the pan with the prawns. Stir and cook gently until all the prawns are opaque and coated in the sauce. 

Serve over the risotto and top with the remaining gremolata and any leftover fresh herbs. If you're serving this dish to guests, finishing it all off with a sprinkle of flaky Maldon salt comes highly recommended.






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