Tomato Risotto | Risotto al Pomodoro

How to make a simple tomato risotto

Tomato Risotto | Risotto al Pomodoro

Ingredients (for a 2-person meal or a 4-person ‘Primo’ – first course – or light meal)

  • 300g Italian rice (e.g. Arborio)
  • 1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
  • 50g lightly salted butter, plus an extra knob of butter to add at the end
  • 1tbsp sundried tomato purée
  • 1tbsp olive oil (optional)
  • 300ml tomato passata
    • TIP: If you prefer your risotto to be less strong on the tomato flavour, use less passata but compensate by using more stock
  • 700ml vegetable stock (If you’re not feeding vegetarians, use chicken stock instead – either home made or made with stock cubes, as it gives the risotto more depth of flavour)
  • Salt, to taste/if needed…check towards the end of cooking time for the risotto
  • Grated parmesan, approx. 2tbsp plus enough for each person to sprinkle on their own portion

TIP: Quantities of tomato passata and vegetable stock can be adjusted, as described above, to suit different tastes; in any case, the actual quantity of stock used will depend on a number of factors: the exact rice used, the ambient humidity, the temperature you’re cooking at, etc. As long as you add the stock a little bit at a time and don’t add any more until all the liquid has been absorbed, you will be fine.


Melt the butter and oil in a non-stick saucepan or stockpot, on a low heat.

Add the finely chopped onion and soften, still on a low heat, until translucent (this should take a couple of minutes), then stir in the sundried tomato purée.

Add the rice and stir it in for up to a minute, to allow the flavours to infuse the rice grains.

Add the passata and stir.

Cook on a low heat, stirring regularly but gently (don’t over-stir as you may break the rice grains) until the passata has almost completely absorbed into the rice, then add a small amount of stock (50-100ml at a time, at most).

Continue to cook on a low heat, stirring regularly to make sure the risotto doesn’t stick/burn to the base of the pan, until the stock has almost completely absorbed into the rice, then add another small amount of stock.

Repeat this process until the rice is cooked; this can take up to 40 mins (check cooking times on the pack of rice), but it will depend on lots of factors, so let your eyes and taste-buds guide you: you need the rice to be a sticky, thick risotto. The rice needs to be soft but still have a distinct rice-like and slightly ‘al dente’ consistency (i.e. not have disintegrated/turned mushy).

Stir a knob of butter in at the end of the cooking time, along with a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan. Serve immediately and provide additional grated parmesan to be sprinkled onto each individual portion.

TIP: If you use the risotto as an ingredient in Supplì, you will need it to be drier than it would be if you were eating it on its own. Also, in that case, do not add the final knob of butter or the parmesan.

Risotto – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!


Sugo al Pomodoro | Basic Tomato Sauce

How to make a basic Italian tomato sauce

This basic tomato sauce can be used as a base for many pasta sauces or for pizza

Sugo al Pomodoro | Salsa al Pomodoro | Basic Tomato Sauce


Ingredients (adjust quantities depending on how much sauce you need – I often make it in big batches, then freeze portions)

  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Olive oil
  • Chopped tomatoes or Passata
  • (if using for pizza, you can also add some oregano and garlic)


First, make the soffritto:

Very finely chop the onion(s), celery and carrot(s) – I use an electric chopper to get them really fine.  Roughly you are aiming for 1 carrot and 1-2 celery stalks per 1 onion and 500ml of tomatoes, but it also depends on how much ‘texture’ you want your sauce to have.

Fry up the finely-chopped onion, celery & carrot in abundant olive oil on a low heat so that they soften.  Make sure they don’t burn.  This will take about 5-10 mins, depending on quantities.

Note: if you were using garlic (this does not form part of the traditional Italian ‘soffritto’), you would also finely chop this and fry it up along with the carrots, onion and celery.

Add the tomatoes / passata and season with salt.

Cover and simmer on a low heat for 1.5 – 2 hours.

If you’re going to use this for pizza, you could stir in some oregano at the end of the cooking time.

Use as required, freeze what you don’t use.


Sugo al Pomodoro | Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce | Low-Cal Meatballs | Low-Fat Meatballs

Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce

A delicious low-fat / low-cal alternative to traditional meatballs in tomato sauce

Whilst I am a bit of a geek when it comes to preserving Italian traditional recipes and I have always considered meatballs in tomato sauce (as a sauce for pasta) to be a very American interpretation of Italian food, I do occasionally enjoy these little morsels (I just don’t pretend they’re Italian…a bit like when I eat pizza in the UK…but that’s for another blog post!).

Turkey is a fantastic ingredient when you want low-fat/low-cal alternatives to other meat in recipes.  It does require hefty seasoning as it’s not as strong-tasting as other meats, though, so do bear that in mind when you cook with turkey.

As I’m currently following the 5:2 Diet (2 non-consecutive very low-cal / “fasting” days per week and 5 ‘normal eating’ days per week), I’m always looking for different things to eat on the 2 low-cal days and these meatballs are a lovely dish to have.  For those in our house that aren’t on a diet, I serve them with pasta, while I just have them on their own with plenty of the tomato sauce, in a bowl.

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce | Spaghetti with Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, served with Spaghetti

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 1 hr
Serves: 4
Approx. calories per serving: 320

Ingredients – for the tomato sauce

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery

    Turkey meatballs simmering in tomato sauce

    Turkey meatballs simmering in tomato sauce

  • 2 carrots
  • a few sprays of 1 Cal cooking spray oil (olive oil)
  • 2 cans/cartons of chopped tomatoes (ca. 400g each)
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • Optional: a few ground dried chilli flakes

Ingredients – for the meatballs

  • 500g minced turkey leg meat
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • Optional: a few ground dried chilli flakes


Wash and trim the celery, scrape and trim the carrots, peel 1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic

Place celery, carrots and onion (chopped into chunks) and garlic into an electric chopper/blender or chop them very finely by hand

Spray a few sprays of the 1 Cal cooking oil spray into a non-stick sauté pan (it’s important to use a pan deep enough for the sauce but wide enough to accommodate the meatballs later), turn the heat on high and as soon as the pan is hot, add the chopped celery, carrots, onion and garlic

Dry-fry on a high heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly to avoid burning, then turn the heat down and simmer for approx. 5 mins

While this is happening, turn your attention to the meatballs: Peel the remaining onion and garlic cloves and chop very finely (ideally in a blender/electric chopper)

Place in a bowl and add the minced turkey leg meat (if you are mincing/grinding the meat yourself, grind the onion and garlic with it)

If you want to add some chilli flakes, add them at this stage

Add some salt, to taste

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce | Spaghetti with MeatballsMix (and squish!) well with your hands, ensuring all ingredients are amalgamated and the meat is almost like a paste.  I like to use vinyl gloves for this process so my hands don’t get caked in meat…it’s more hygienic, too!

Roll small individual meatballs (you should get approx. 36 meatballs) and keep them to one side

Pour the chopped tomatoes into the pan with the celery, carrots, onion and garlic (use a little bit of water to ‘wash out’ any tomato clinging to the sides of the carton/tin)

Season with salt (and if desired, chilli flakes) to taste

Turn up the heat, bring to the boil, then reduce back down to a simmer

Carefully place the meatballs on top of the simmering tomato sauce, leaving a small gap between each of them so they don’t stick to each other.  Do NOT stir at this point or they’ll fall apart!

Place a lid over the sauté pan and leave them.

After about 10 minutes, check on your meatballs, they should look cooked on the outside, having changed colour and retained their shape.  At this point, stir very, very gently and carefully, just enough to coax the meatballs further into the tomato sauce, place the lid back over the pan and leave.

You can repeat the very gentle stirring process 1-2 times during the rest of the cooking time, but don’t over-stir as the meatballs run the risk of falling apart otherwise.

Cook for about an hour on a low heat with the lid on, removing the lid for the last 5-10 minutes if you wish to thicken the sauce.

Serve with pasta, or crusty bread, or rice…or if, like me, you’re on a low-cal / low-fat day, eat on their own!

Deliciously simple, deliciously good, deliciously low-cal!