I don’t read much of the newspaper these days, but every Thursday, I make a beeline (I just dated myself again) for the Food Section in our local paper. It has a classier name, but it escapes me right now. There’s usually a recipe or two I cut out and tuck away in my Little Black Book of recipe inspiration. About two years ago the Food Section shared a recipe for Mushroom Risotto. I had eaten risotto in restaurants but never attempted it at home, so I cut it out, made it and fell head over heels in love with my own risotto. I hate to brag, but, but sometimes you just have to blow your own horn. A couple of my favorite risottos are a version of that Mushroom Risotto where I add dried cherries and the other is a Lemon Parmesan that is ah-mazing with pan seared scallops. Today I’m sharing a Tomato Basil Risotto that had me filling my plate more than once. I’m only slightly embarrassed to say I stopped at thirds because my stomach was ready to burst. This Tomato Basil Risotto just may kick the others to the curb. Risotto isn’t hard to make, but it’s like caring for a toddler, and imagine what happens when that toddler is left unattended. . .

Tomato Basil Risotto and Grilled Lamb Chops from The Hungry Bluebird.

I love the cheesy, creaminess of this Tomato Basil Risotto but I wasn’t sure what to pair it with. For me, it’s a meal in a bowl. For hubby, aka The Carnivore, not so. Then I remembered Kelly from The Hungry Bluebird  posted a photo of her Grilled Lamb Chops . Kelly and I have never actually met in person, but I consider her a blogger friend. A blogger friend is something like a pen pal you may have had as a child. You chit-chat and get to know one another by whatever the current ‘mail’ method is and ooh and ahhhh about eachother’s food. Okay the last part is what food bloggers do, so not exactly like a pen pal, but you get the idea. Kelly and I share an appreciation for wine, good food and family, not necessarily in that order. Click here to get the Grilled Lamb Chop recipe and more of Kelly’s recipes, beautiful photos and her stories ~ well, they’re sure to make you smile and who can’t use a little of that?

Tomato Basil Risotto and Grilled Lamb Chops from The Hungry Bluebird.

I followed Kelly’s Lamb Chop  recipe, marinating them like you see above and slid the into the refrigerator. They’d only been marinating about an hour when my husband walked into the kitchen and commented about how great the kitchen smelled! He wasn’t wrong. There’s a lively neighborhood in Detroit called Greektown. It’s been one of our favorite places for a long time. There’s a casino and hotel there and some bars but mostly is restaurants. The aroma (along with Greek music) fill the air and the lamb there is flavorful and so tender is almost melts in your mouth. The Hungry Bluebird’s Grilled Lamb Chops are like that.

Tomato Basil Risotto:

I have a large skillet with deep sides I usually use for risotto. You’ll want something that can handle all the liquid and the stirring so it doesn’t splash everywhere. Tomato Basil Risotto with Grilled Lamb Chops from The Hungry Bluebird.

Most risotto recipes will tell you keep the stock hot in a saucepan to ladle into the risotto. Start with room temperature stock and you can completely skip this step. 

Set aside 3 cups of room temperature stock. Over medium-low heat, drizzle in about a tablespoon of olive oil and let it warm up. Add the minced onion, grated garlic and halved tomatoes. Season everything with a pinch of sea salt and a couple of cracks of black pepper and cook about 3 minutes, stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Add the rice and continue cooking over medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the wine and cook about 2 minutes, letting it reduce and stirring so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the skillet. Start adding the stock one ladle at a time, stirring until the liquid is almost absorbed then adding another to get that creamy texture you’ve been dreaming about until about 3 cups of stock is absorbed.

The amount of liquid will vary slightly with the heat of your stove and size of your pan.

Tomato Basil Risotto with Grilled Lamb Chops from The Hungry Bluebird.

When the rice is finished cooking, remove it from the heat and add the butter and a squeeze of lemon juice, blending. Fold in the Parmesan and Ricotta cheeses stirring until they’re completely blended, then gently add the basil, stirring. 

Tomato Basil Risotto with Grilled Lamb Chops from The Hungry Bluebird.

Last, I drizzled a balsamic reduction over the Tomato Basil Risotto using a (insert gasp) bottled balsamic reduction. You can make your own if you’d like – I usually do – but it’s another pot to wash and y’all know how I feel about washing pots and pans. Sorry ~ not sure where that y’all came from. My daughter swears by bottled balsamic reduction and last week when I was at our local fish market they had it at the checkout. It was like an omen. I may never make my own again. . .

Have you tried bottled balsamic reduction? Did you like it?

Tomato Basil Risotto with Grilled Lamb Chops from The Hungry Bluebird.


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