Vegetarian recipe for Saffron Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes – a great starter or side dish

olive oil, for cooking
6 large, ripe tomatoes
several stems fresh oregano
1 small brown onion or shallot, diced
1 clove garlic
1 of each, red and yellow sweet peppers, finely diced
3/4 cup arborio or carnaroli (risotto) rice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
a generous pinch of saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
1/3 cup white wine
1 cup (250ml) vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh basil, to serve

How to
Preheat the oven to 200° C. Slice the tops off the tomatoes to create a lid, about 1cm thick. With a spoon, scoop out and remove the inner flesh and chop as fine as possible. Reserve this tomato pulp for later. Turn the tomatoes upside down to drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic and chopped sweet peppers and cook for several minutes more. Stir through the risotto rice. Season with oregano, paprika, saffron, chilli and a pinch of salt. Coat the rice with all the aromatics in the pan and dry-fry for a minute or two to toast the rice. This will enhance the flavour and lend a slight nuttiness to the overall taste. Deglaze the pan with the wine and reduce by half. Add the reserved tomato pulp and vegetable stock. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Turn the tomatoes right side up and season inside with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a sprig of oregano into the tomatoes and fill generously with the risotto mixture. Place the lids on top, drizzle liberally with olive oil and a scattering of sea salt flakes. Roast for 50 – 60 minutes until the skin is blistered and the tomatoes are soft. Baste with the pan juices half-way through the cooking time. Finish with fresh basil, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve with crusty ciabatta bread and a fresh garden salad.

Recipe provided by Bibby’s Kitchen @ 36, a food blog by Dianne Bibby. For more details on monthly cooking classes hosted in Johannesburg, email [email protected].

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