This luscious Tomato and Mascarpone Risotto is easy to make and absolutely to die for. It relies on high quality ingredients and good technique to achieve the most flavor out of only 7 ingredients. Hot salted water is the best cooking liquid for this risotto, as it allows the fresh tomatoes and mascarpone to really shine. No wine or broth necessary.
This Tomato and Mascarpone Risotto feels very summery due to its use of sweet, fresh tomatoes and mascarpone cheese, which is considered a summer cheese.
However, you can easily make this risotto recipe all year long using Campari tomatoes, winter's best kept secret. Mascarpone, though a good summer cheese, is still available all year long.
Serve it alongside a simply-seared flank steak or any other protein you like. Or bring it to a holiday or potluck! It's a perfect crowd-pleasing side dish.
How to make the Risotto
As I mentioned earlier, this is one of the simplest risotto recipes you can make. See below for the ingredient list and simple instructions.
This Tomato and Mascarpone Risotto only has 7 ingredients, plus a little olive oil, butter, salt, and water. (to cook the risotto) In most Italian cooking, simplicity is key.
- Risotto (Arborio rice)
- Yellow onion
- Black pepper
- Tomato Paste
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Olive oil and Butter
See recipe card for quantities.
Step 1: Mise en place. Bring 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Dice the tomatoes and onions, and have all your ingredients nearby.
Step 2: You're ready to start cooking! In a 6-qt sauce pot heat the olive oil and butter. First sauté the diced onions and black pepper. Then add the tomato paste and sauté a minute longer. Finally, add the risotto rice and sauté that for 1 minute too.
Step 3: Add some of the hot boiling water to the risotto. Stir frequently so the risotto doesn't stick to the bottom. As soon as all the liquid has evaporated and soaked into the risotto, add more. This process of adding and evaporating, adding and evaporating, takes 25-30 minutes and 5-6 cups of water.
Step 4: When the risotto is cooked through, reduce the heat to low and add the diced tomatoes and mascarpone cheese. Stir to incorporate and transfer to a serving bowl.
Serve with more black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and that's it!
Helpful Risotto-Making Hints:
- Do NOT over-salt the water. Making risotto is not like making pasta in that almost all of the salty water soaks into the risotto. The water it doesn't soak up evaporates, making the rice taste even saltier.
- Keep the boiling water from evaporating too quickly by making sure it stays at a gentle simmer, not a rolling boil.
- No need to keep track of how much water you've used. Stop adding water when you think the risotto is soft enough to eat. This is just you cooking! For reference, this takes 25-30 minutes and approximately 5 cups of water.
- If peak summer tomatoes aren't available, use Campari tomatoes, which are good all year long.
There are a couple ways you can substitute ingredients in this tomato and mascarpone risotto to cater to certain dietary preferences.
- Dairy free - instead of mascarpone, you can use a non-dairy ricotta alternative such as cashew-based "ricotta."
- Butter free - The recipe only calls for 1 tablespoon of butter, so it's really easy to replace. Just use all olive oil instead.
- Mascarpone- If your grocery store doesn't sell mascarpone, use good quality ricotta instead. As a last resort, use cream cheese.
This recipe is admittedly pretty perfect as-is. But here are a couple variations I love.
- Spicy - add a tablespoon of diced Calabrian chili peppers at the same time as the tomato paste. Or add 2 dried Chiles de Arbol at the same time as the onions.
- Make it a meal - serve with Simply grilled chicken for some added protein.
Equipment can have a big impact on how a recipe turns out. Here re some tips on the best equipment to use for this recipe:
- To make each water transfer easier use a sauce pot with pourable sides or even a tea kettle to boil the water. Then you can pour waters straight into the risotto pot instead of scooping it out with a measuring cup and spilling or burning yourself.
- The best pan for cooking risotto is a 6-quart stainless steel pot. It may seem too big at first, but risotto expands a lot as it cooks and soaks up water. The tomatoes and mascarpone add even more volume to the dish.
- I advise against using a non-stick pot since non-stick doesn't sauté things well. Remember, some sticking is a good thing when sautéing. Those little burnt on bits, or "fond," build flavor throughout the dish.
Can I Freeze Risotto?
Yes, absolutely! Allow the Tomato and Mascarpone Risotto to cool and place it in a container. Then press plastic wrap down onto the risotto and cover it with a lid. This keeps out as much oxygen as possible.
What's the Best Way to Reheat Risotto?
There are 2 options for reheating risotto: In the microwave or in a pot. Either way, add a splash of water to loosen things up since the risotto probably soaked up most of the liquid since you first made it.
Can You Make Risotto Without Wine?
Yes, absolutely! Wine is great for deglazing and adds lovely flavor to many sauces, but for this recipe, we actually don't want to add too many competing flavors. The purpose is to allow the tomatoes and mascarpone to really shine.
Having said that, you can add a little white wine or vodka if you'd like in place of the first dose of water.
How much Arborio Rice to use Per Person?
A good rule of thumb when making risotto is that 1 cup of Arborio Rice feeds about 4 people as a side dish.
1 Cup of dry Arborio/Risotto rice makes about 4 cups of cooked risotto. Yes, it quadruples in size! This is enough for about 4 people as a side dish.
This risotto recipe specifically can be extended to feed 6 people (again, as a side dish) since it gains even more volume from the tomatoes and mascarpone.
What Does Mascarpone Cheese Taste Like?
Mascarpone Cheese tastes like ricotta but has the consistency of cream cheese. Just like ricotta, it doesn't have a lot of flavor, but is ultra creamy. The water content is lower than ricotta though... like cream cheese.
It adds the perfect creaminess to this risotto without thinning it out too much... something heavy cream, which is a little more traditional, tends to do.
If you don't have access to peak summer tomatoes, use Campari tomatoes, which tent to be sweet and accessible all year long.
- 1 cup of Arborio rice
- 1 small yellow onion
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 pound of fresh tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup of mascarpone
- A handful of fresh Basil
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Bring 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a medium sized pot. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a 6-qt sauce pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the diced onions and black pepper and sauté until the onions start to soften and look translucent. Then add the tomato paste and sauté a minute longer. Finally, add the risotto rice and sauté that for 1 minute too.
Add 1 cup of the simmering water to the risotto. Stir frequently so the risotto doesn't stick to the bottom. As soon as all the liquid has evaporated and soaked into the risotto, add 1 cup more of hot water. Continue to repeat this process of adding and evaporating, adding and evaporating until the risotto is cooked through. It takes 25-30 minutes and 5-6 cups of water.
- Once the risotto is cooked through, reduce the heat to low and add the diced tomatoes and mascarpone cheese. Stir to incorporate.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with fresh basil, more black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and that's it!
Keywords: Tomato mascarpone risotto