MariLark Heirloom Tomato Risotto

From: A New Take on Giving Away the Farm By Rachel Trachten

One day as Costello was touring the garden at the French Laundry in Yountville, a worker gave him a few of their tomato plants. Charlie saved the seeds to share the plants with others. He calls these beauties “Red Laundry.” (Photo by Charlie Costello)

Serves 4

1 pound fresh heirloom tomatoes (1 cup cooked)

¼ pound sweet Italian sausage or sausage of choice (optional)

2½ cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped shallots or onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

¾ cup arborio, carnaroli, or other risotto-type rice

¼ cup white wine

2/3 cup finely shredded Irish Cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup fresh basil leaves, cut into large pieces just before serving

An hour or more in advance, cook the tomatoes slowly over low heat. Also cook the (optional) sausage and set aside.

Place stock in a saucepan, heat to a low simmer, and keep hot as you make the risotto.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium flame. Add chopped shallots (or onion) and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8–10 minutes. Add minced garlic to the pan about 5 minutes in.

Add the rice, stirring constantly over medium heat until the edges of the grains look translucent, about 3 minutes. Then add wine and cook, stirring constantly until wine is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Begin adding chicken stock or vegetable stock ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly as all liquid is absorbed with each addition. About 20 minutes into process, stir in 1 cup of the slow-cooked tomatoes, continuing to cook until rice reaches al dente, then stir in the shredded cheese and the cooked sausage (if using). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot garnished with the fresh basil.