I feel pretty darn lucky to have access to such amazing food out here in Seattle. This may sound a bit touristy, but my favorite place to shop is Pike’s Place Market. Of course I have to fight through seas of people to get what I want, but it’s so completely worth it for the quality of the food, and the friendliness of the vendors (not to mention produce is so much cheaper…especially since our produce stand usually throws a bunch of free stuff in our bag :3). Plus, you get access to all of the ingredients you could possibly want from multiple specialty shop, all in a small area.
On this particular Saturday, Mikey and I headed to the market with a couple things in mind that I needed for a recipe I was developing, but a complete blank slate as far as what we would get for dinner. I had decided we would go with whatever “looked good,” and go from there.
The produce stand we buy from not only allows, but insists that we sample all of their fruits and vegetables each time we visit. I’m usually overly impressed with the taste, appearance, and overall vibrance of their selections, but it’s not often that I come across a product I have never tried before; however, when they urged me to try the Sun Gold tomatoes they just go in, I was completely swept off my feet! Sun Golds are little, bright orange cherry tomatoes that are exceptionally sweet and fruity. The vendors related them to Skittles, and, honestly, that’s a pretty fair analogy. Even Mikey, who is constantly preaching about his hatred for raw tomatoes, enjoyed them! I, naturally, purchased a pint and brainstormed a use for them aside from popping the entire basket into my mouth, one-by-one.
I finally decided on my old stand-by—risotto. I picked up some Flagship Reserve (an aged white cheddar) and Parmigiana Reggiano cheeses from Beecher’s on the way out of the market, because, hey, it’s right there and it’s the best cheese in town (and, actually, the Flagship was named Best Cheese in North America!), and headed home to get cookin’!
I love the way this risotto turned out! The sweet, juicy tomatoes pair beautifully with the rich, concentrated flavor of the Flagship, and the nutty-saltiness of the parmigiana. It’s creamy and comforting, and a perfect transitional dish from Summer to Fall. I added a couple pieces of crisped up prosciutto (I think pancetta would work better, but it’s all I had), because I loooove pork fat, but it’s certainly not necessary. I also drizzled some aged balsamic over the top because I think it went wonderfully with the tomatoes; this, of course, is also optional.
Flagship Risotto with Sun Gold Tomatoes
serves 2-3 as a main course
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (such as a Pinot Grigio)
- 3-4 cups chicken broth/stock
- 1 pint Sun Gold tomatoes, washed and stems removed
- 1/2 cup grated parmigiana reggiano
- 1/2 cup grated Flagship Reserve (or other aged white cheddar)
- salt, to taste
- 2 tbsp finely chopped chive, + more for garnish
- crisped prosciutto, pancetta, or bacon (optional)
- aged balsamic (optional)
- Add the chicken stock to a small sauce pan, and warm over medium heat.
- In a large saute pan, or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the shallot and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add in the rice, and toast up the grains for a few minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine, and stir until incorporated. Begin adding the stock, 1-2 ladlefuls at a time, stirring each time until absorbed.
- After 20-30 minutes, the rice should be tender with a very slight bite. Remove from the heat and stir in the tomatoes and cheeses. Season, to taste, with salt. Stir in the chopped chives.
- To plate, scoop the risotto into dishes. Sprinkle with more chopped chives. Drizzle some balsamic overtop, and top with crisped pancetta/prosciutto/bacon.