Risotto alla Vodka has been something I have wanted to try to make at home for months now, after having an alla vodka sauce that made me do a happy dance at the table. This post is in partnership with I [love] San Marzano DOP, a campaign co-financed by the European Commission promoting San Marzano dell’agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP tomatoes in the USA.
San Marzano Tomatoes, hands down the best tomatoes from Europe and the best tomatoes to use in your cooking. As a chef, quality is always the first thing we want and with any Italian-inspired dish, to be able to cook with San Marzano tomatoes is always a pleasure! Let’s dive into some San Marzano history first, straight from the tomatoes themselves…
Let me introduce myself, I’m the San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese – Nocerino DOP tomato
I have a bright red color, a firm and elastic pulp and a fresh, intense taste and aroma. I have been called red gold, or the king of tomatoes, but most know me simply as San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP.
In 1770, I crossed the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in Europe as a gift from the Viceroy of Peru to the Bourbon King of Naples, Ferdinand I. And for over 300 years I have been living in this marvellous fertile and sun-filled land: the area of Agro Sarnese-Nocerino, in the province of Salerno. In ancient times, this area was called “Campania Felix” by the Romans and never was a name more appropriate. The Mediterranean climate and volcanic soil, rich in potassium and phosphorus, make this territory the ideal place for me to put don my roots and thrive, as I chose to do. It is a vast area that also includes the small town of San Marzano, where I took my name from.
Those of you who have had the good fortune to taste me will immediately understand why I am famous all the world over. My taste and aroma are unique and my organoleptic properties remain unchanged – and even exalted – when I am canned. And I am really special when you use me to make any recipe: you will see how your dishes really burst with flavor!
How lovely, right?! To honor these gorgeous tomatoes, I wanted to keep it simple yet include some technique that would benefit the product and end result, thus I decided to cook a can of crushed tomatoes for an hour and a half over low heat, to turn them into tomato paste!
Yes – a simple application of heat to crushed tomatoes, stirring occasionally as it cooks and the water evaporates, result in a luscious, thick tomato paste that is the base ingredient for this Risotto alla Vodka.
Note this recipe, unlike other “alla Vodka” recipes, does not have cream added. The starchiness of the risotto provides that creaminess!
How to Make Tomato Paste from Crushed Tomatoes
- Place a stock pot over medium heat. Use the largest pot you can – the more surface area you have, the faster this will go.
- Add a can of peeled tomatoes into the pot and using a rubber spatula, break up the tomatoes a bit.
- Let the heat do its job! I keep an eye on the pot and stir every 15 minutes or so because I kept it over medium high heat, but if you reduce the heat to low, you can basically set it and forget it for an hour.
- This transforms your peeled tomatoes into a brick red-colored tomato paste, perfect for this and many other recipes.
Why You Should Make Your Own Tomato Paste?
Making your own tomato paste from quality tomatoes like San Marzano tomatoes just elevates any dish you are making. You control the ingredients, there’s no added salts or sugars, as well as no preservatives to your tomato paste.
It’s also just an simple technique that adds to the dish and makes you a better cook overall. Honestly, I wouldn’t even call this a technique itself because it’s just the power of evaporation, but hey, it’s my blog, I’ll do what I want, ha! Now go forth and make your own tomato paste!
- 1 can peeled, canned San Marzano Tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- ½ cup vodka
- 1 quart stock, chicken or vegetable
- fresh basil, to serve
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large stock pot over medium hight heat, add the tomatoes and using a spatula, break them up a bit. These will cook for an hour and a half, or so, until it becomes a rich, thick tomato paste that we will use for the risotto. This must happen before you even think about risotto. You can make this the day ahead.
- Once you have the tomato paste ready to go, get started. In the same pot you made the paste (if it's dirty, it's fine) add the olive oil and garlic, and sauté until aromatic.
- Add the rice to toast for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste you've made, stir until combined, and add the vodka to deglaze.
- Separately, have the stock heating up in a separate pan, which you will use to add stock into the risotto as you stir and cook for about 30 minutes.
- Taste. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in some fresh basil. Serve immediately with a heavy drizzle of olive oil.
DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE? I want to see it! Follow Cooking with Books on Instagram, take a photo, and tag me in it. I love to know what you are making and how you made this recipe your own!