No babysitting this easy tomato and eggplant risotto! Just put it together and pop it in the oven for an hour. Serve with a sharply dressed salad or sautéed greens. Hearty, comforting and using delicious summer vegetables. Although it written as vegan, feel free to add in some flavourful cheese like a Parmesan or smoked mozzarella for a more intense, rich taste.
I don’t know when I started making risotto. It seems it has always been a part of my cooking repertoire. Especially in our early years of marriage, when I was actively trying to impress my husband (I bet he pines for those days!). As we were strict vegetarians until the mid 90s, bordering on vegan, risotto and other one-pot rice dishes were a go-to for me.
The less said about my nut roasts the better… 😉
For many years I have made risotto the way nonnas down the years have done it: with endless patience. Of course calling this Easy Tomato and Eggplant Risotto a risotto is a bit of a stretch. The main deal with a risotto is the gradual adding of the hot stock. And the gradual stirring it all in. Not tough, of course. In fact it is actually quite pleasurable. But it is a bit of a time-suck on a work night.
Who’s got time for that?
Nonnas, I imagine. But not many other people.
And perhaps modern Italian grandmothers have other things to do. Like be captured on this wonderful Instagram account celebrating the glamorous grandmothers of Milan. Their style nous and elegance makes me look in my wardrobe and want to weep.
Don’t get me wrong, despite the intense pot-tending, I love a properly made risotto. The payoff for all that patience is a sublimely creamy dish that gives comfort in spades. Especially when it is studded with porcini mushrooms and drizzled with truffle oil. This classic combination is just the thing to have on a night when you need to pop on the heat and pull on your flannel jammies.
Which hopefully – in the northern hemisphere – isn’t you. 🙂
For today’s recipe I thought I would let you know how I tend to make risotto.
My friend, I bake it.
Making Easy Tomato and Eggplant Risotto
The easy part of making this risotto is the attention you will NOT be paying to it while it cooks. No stirring, no broth adding. Just pop it in the oven to bubble under the lid, while you relax with a glass of wine.*
Although this risotto is easy, there is a bit of prep. Just as you would do for any risotto making session – sorry! But – and I encourage this – further time-saving steps can be taken. To wit, if you have eggplants that are leftover from another dish, use them. Or even add some antipasti eggplant from a jar – although an expensive-ish option it really is gorgeous. I already suggest adding in some chopped, seasoned antipasti artichokes and semi-dried tomatoes in oil, so why not go all in?
To make it all up, first you slice up an eggplant into thinnish rounds, slick with a little oil and bake in the oven for a bit. While the eggplant is softening up in the oven, you fry off some leek and garlic, adding the rice to get it nicely coated. When the eggplants are soft, add about two-thirds as well as chopped tomatoes – and any jarred antipasti bits – to the dish. Top the dish with overlapping tomato slices and the rest of the cooked eggplant. Then you pour on the broth and pop it in the oven to do its thing, undisturbed, for nearly an hour. Finally, add the herby, lemon-kissed crumbs and bake just until the crumbs crisp up.
The contrast between the intensely flavoured crumbs and the soft melting vegetables with brothy brown risotto rice is just wonderful.
This method can be adapted in winter to use what is good and seasonal for you. Leftover roasted vegetables and a big handful of shredded smoked cheese is a winter delight. And still largely hands-off. You can even change out the grains for farro or semi-pearled barley using the same amount of stock. Different grains absorb at different rates, so have a peek at 45 minutes and judge from there how much longer you may need. If you opt for white, polished risotto rice – and I do sometimes – shave off about 20 minutes.
What to have with this risotto
It really doesn’t need much else to accompany it. Certainly nothing fussy. My default is some braised chopped rainbow chard, kale or broccoli as I grow them, so they are essentially free. But even if that weren’t the case these vegetables are fantastic foils for the texture and taste of this easy tomato and eggplant risotto. A sharply dressed green salad with a biting vinaigrette (add a dollop of tapenade – mmm) is my other fall back.
Wines* that I think go well with this dish are a Grüner Veltliner, a dry Provençal rosé or a French (or French-style) Sauvignon Blanc. If you want to keep it Italian, try a Gavi, Pecorino (it goes very well with tomatoes) or a dry-ish Prosecco. Sparkling water with a sprig of mint is great too.
You’ll see that I’ve not added cheese to this dish, but by all means add it in – great handfuls if you like. If not, and you aren’t vegan, why not follow the main with a small but good quality plate of cheese and cut fruit instead of a dessert? Or if vegan, or you just fancy it, some cultured nut cheese from a good health food store or farmer’s market? This probiotic cashew cheese (it’s firm enough to cut) from Minimalist Baker, looks straightforward and good if you want to have a bash at making your own.
If you like the eggplant and tomato combo as much as I do, why not have a look at one of my most Pinned recipes, Baked Ratatouille Tian? I have just updated it with a new recipe card for easy printing. 🙂 (image below)
In the mood for more pasta recipes? Check out these oldies but goodies:
Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne (a favourite at work)
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Alfredo (so good! image below)
plus LOADS more in my Recipe Index, under “Grains and Pasta”
Easy Tomato and Eggplant Risotto with Crunchy Herb Topping
No babysitting this risotto! Just put it together and pop it in the oven for an hour. Serve with a sharply dressed salad or sautéed greens. Hearty, comforting and using delicious summer vegetables.
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided use
- 1 leek cleaned and diced - white part and some light green
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 medium eggplant sliced into rounds
- 4 medium tomatoes
- 8 semi-dried tomatoes in oil snipped up - optional
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 350 g brown risotto rice or white
- 100 g marinated artichoke hearts chopped - optional
- 20 g breadcrumbs any kind
- 1 tsp fennel seeds lightly pan-toasted then crushed (more to taste)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp finely chopped mint
- 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
- 1.2 litres hot vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C/400F.
Slick a little oil on each eggplant slice (or use a spray oil) and place on baking trays. Bake in the oven until golden and softened - about 12-15 minutes. You should use about 1.5 tablespoons.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoon of the olive oil in an oven-proof lidded pot or Dutch oven over a medium heat. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt (this helps prevent burning) and stir fry for five minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté for a further three two minutes. Add the rice and stir.
Cut half of the tomatoes into slices and dice the remaining.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes and two-third-ish of the cooked eggplants, plus all of the artichokes and semi-dried tomatoes in oil if using, as well as pepper Top with the tomato slices and remaining eggplant.
Gently pour the hot stock - just boiled kind of hot - to one sided of the pan so that it doesn't disturb the top layer of vegetables. Pop the lid on and place on the middle shelf of your preheated oven. Bake for 50 minutes.
After 50 minutes, stir the remaining oil with the breadcrumbs, crushed fennel seeds and minced herbs. If you want to add some chilli flakes and grated Parmesan, go for it. Sprinkle the crumbs (etc) all over the risotto and bake without a lid for a further 10-15 minutes. Ideally you want the risotto to still have a little liquid visible rather than being fully absorbed.
Serve warm rather than piping hot, with sautéed greens or a sharply dressed salad. Wines that go well with this dish are Grüner Veltliner, a dry Provençal rosé and a French (or French-style) Sauvignon Blanc. If you want to keep it Italian, try a Gavi, Pecorino (it goes very well with tomatoes) or a dry-ish Prosecco.
If you wish to use white risotto rice, shave off about 20 minutes of the cooking time and use 700 ml of vegetable stock.
I know in the US cartons of broth are more typical. If so, heat the broth separately and add as indicated. If using stock cubes or powder, use a kettle of just-boiled water to hydrate your cubes/powder in a large jug.
BOOZE! Wines that go well with this dish are Grüner Veltliner, a dry Provençal rosé and a French (or French-style) Sauvignon Blanc. If you want to keep it Italian, try a Gavi, Pecorino (it goes very well with tomatoes) or a dry-ish Prosecco.
CHEESY! A layer of shredded smoked mozzarella added into the centre makes a nice surprise.
PIN NOW. MAKE SOON!