There's just something magical about making risotto. I enjoy it. This one turned out really good. I don't know if I'd make it again, but I did really like it. It came together really nicely. And if you multitask and do the eggplant at the same time as the risotto, then it's pretty quick to prepare. Yum!
Risotto with Eggplant, Pine Nuts, and Tomatoes (Risotto con Melanzane, Pinoli, e Pomodori)
I first tasted this dish at a tiny trattoria in Rome, one balmy evening in late summer. It always reminds me of being in Italy. Salting the eggplants before cooking will remove any bitterness and toasting the pine nuts until golden will intensify their nutty flavor.
1 small eggplant, about 7 oz, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 medium Italian plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup unsalted butter
8 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 cups risotto rice, such as vialone nana, carnaroli, or arborio
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts, pan-toasted
A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
A handful of fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the eggplant in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Rinse to remove the sale and pat dry. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet, add the eggplant, and cook until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened.
2. Put the stock in a saucepan. Heat until almost boiling, then reduce the heat until barely simmering to keep it hot.
3. Heat the butter and remaining oil in a deep skillet or heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add the garlic.
4. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until the grains are well-coated and glistening, about 1 minute. Pour in the wine and stir until it has been completely absorbed.
5. Add 1 ladle of hot stock and simmer, stirring until it has been absorbed. Continue to add the stock at intervals and cook as before, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender but firm (al dente), about 18-20 minutes. Reserve the last ladle of stock.
6. Add the reserved stock, the eggplant and tomato mixture, the Parmesan, pine nuts, parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Remove from the heat, cover, and let rest for 2 minutes.
7. Spoon into warmed bowls and serve immediately.