Risotto with tomato and lime

This is a product of the tomato season, that time of the year when you’ve got the little red marvels bubbling away on top of the stove. Ladled into risotto, every grain is infused with that delicious richness of tomato puree.

Cooking, in my life, has more to do with what’s at hand than what’s in a cookbook. The only time I seek recipes is when I’m baking. And that’s only because baking is so much about routine and nothing about mixing and matching flavours.

So, when a 20 kg box of tomatoes had been turned into juice, and was bubbling away on a very low heat for hours; and when local limes came into season, and were smiling at me from the bench, next to the freshly picked basil, the hard and sharp chilli, and the newly dug up garlic, it was a natural to toss the lot into a pot of risotto. A natural indeed. Just taste it and see. The lime is a huge surprise, adding itself to the pot, but also enhancing the flavour of the fresh tomatoes. Obviously such a dish is not entirely dependent on a bubbling stockpot of fresh tomato puree. Canned tomatoes are perfectly acceptable. Just cook them down in the microwave until you have the consistency you need.

1 cup tomato puree

2 medium-sized onions, peeled and chopped roughly

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 chilli, chopped finely

zest of 1 lime

400 g (2 1/2 cups) Arborio rice

plenty of vegetable stock or simmering water

handful of basil, chopped roughly


black pepper

juice of 1 lime

parmesan cheese


Make a well-thickened tomato puree from which most of the water has been eliminated. This is best done with tomato pulp or skinned, fresh (or canned) tomatoes, cooked down in the microwave, for about 15 minutes on high (depending on the wattage of your machine). Set aside and keep warm.


Cook the onion in a little olive oil, adding the garlic and chilli and lime zest when the onions have softened. Toss in the rice, stirring to cover the grains with olive oil.


Add the stock, ladle by ladle. Half-way through, probably after about 10 minutes, add the tomato puree, and stir through.


Continue cooking until the rice is done, and then add the basil. Check for seasoning, and rectify according to taste.


Just before serving, add the juice of the lime (or 2 or 3 if you like a really big lime flavour), and turn the pepper mill over the lot. Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

WINE: No worries here. The underlying flavour of the lime means a good riesling from Clare, Eden Valley, Central Victoria, or the Goulburn.