I hosted a family dinner recently and wanted to try out a new Italian recipe. That might sound a little risky, but to be honest, nothing in David Rocco’s cookbook has ever let me down.

I have never tired to make a cheese free risotto – I wasn’t even sure it would be that good – but this one was very easy and packed with flavour! I was slightly skeptical given that the recipe didn’t call for adding parmesan at the end (which usually adds a super creamy luxurioius punch to most risottos), but the pureed tomatoes gave this one a very thick and rich texture. This recipe is gluten and lactose free – but don’t worry – you will not feel deprived!

I had to increase the recipe amount as it was for 4 and we were having 6 people over. I seriously underestimated how much pan space risotto for 6 would take. So, needless to say, my risotto started in one pan and ended up in 2. Word to the wise, making 2 pans of risotto simultaneously is not an easy task – especially since it requires constant stirring for about 45 minutes. I also forgot to add the parsley and pine nuts at the end, but to be honest, it was so good already that I didn’t miss them.

Risotto alla puttanesca
Serves 4

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
4 anchovies, roughly chopped or 1 tbsp anchovy paste
2-4 tbsp capers, drained
12 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Chili pepper flakes
2 cups Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice
1 cup white wine (or extra vegetable stock)
2 cups tomato puree
4-5 cups vegetable stock, heated to a simmer
Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for sprinkling

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-heat. Add the shallots, anchovies (or paste), capers, olives and chili pepper flakes; cook gently until the shallots are slightly browned. At this point, add your rice, giving it a good stir. You want the rice to toast a bit and absorb all the flavours.

Add the wine and stir. It will be absorbed quickly. Now add the tomato puree. Again, stir it a bit and keep your eye on it. In a few minutes, it will get thick as the rice starts to absorb it and take on an intense tomato flavour.

Now start adding the broth. Lower the heat to medium and pour the broth, one cup at a time adding more when it’s absorbed. Stir constantly to keep risotto from sticking to the pan. Add salt as needed (I didn’t add any and it was perfectly flavoured). Continue to do this for the next 15-20 minutes, until the risotto is al dente (soft to the tooth), not too liquid and not too dry.

Remove from the heat and add the parsley and half the pine nuts. Use the rest of the pine nuts to garnish each serving.

Sprinkle each plate with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to finish.

Source: David Rocco’s Dolce Vita