When fragrant Italian sausage, juicy tomatoes, and sweet basil join forces, you know things are going to be good. Here they're tucked into al dente risotto and the whole mess is made extra creamy, thanks to the additions of butter and grated Parmesan cheese.
Served up in shallow bowls, this is dinner at its very best. It's a one-pot dish simple enough for a weeknight yet just fancy enough for a casual dinner party with friends on the weekend. Either way you decide to enjoy it, you can't go wrong.
A Tomato-Rich Risotto That's Hearty and Special
This risotto recipe stands out from others because in addition to the usual chicken broth that's used as the cooking liquid, a can of diced tomatoes and their juices join in. That means the rice absorbs that tangy, sweet tomato goodness as it cooks to result in an even more flavorful dish.
What's more, stirring in cooked crumbled bits of sausage just before serving really bulks this risotto up, making it something that can easily feed a hungry crowd without any concern that they'll be left unsatisfied.
The addition of rich, juicy bites of meat could weigh this dish down, but the last-minute stir-in of plenty of chopped fresh basil nix any concerns thanks to its brightness.
All variations of risotto tend to connote just a bit of specialness, and this one is no different, but since this one is full of so many familiar, well-loved flavors, it's a dish that feels right any night of the week, in any situation.
Sausage and Tomato Risotto
(28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
(1 quart) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
uncooked sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
yellow onion, diced
Freshly ground black pepper
arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice
dry white wine
finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
loosely packed chopped fresh basil leaves
Place the diced tomatoes and their juices and broth in a medium saucepan over low heat and keep it at a very low simmer.
Heat the oil in a large, high-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook, breaking up any large pieces and stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through and crisp at the edges, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.
Add the onions, a pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of black pepper to the pan and sauté until the onions are fragrant and beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir until every grain is coated with fat. Continue stirring the rice until the edges have turned translucent but the center is still opaque, about 2 minutes. You should also be able to smell the aroma of toasted rice.
Pour wine into the pan and simmer, stirring constantly, until the wine has completely reduced and the pan is nearly dry, about 3 minutes. Begin incrementally adding the tomato and broth mixture one 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Wait to add another ladle until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice.
Continue adding broth until the rice is al dente and the broth is creamy. Begin tasting the rice after about 12 minutes to gauge how far it has cooked. The risotto is ready when the rice is al dente (when it still has a bit of chew) and the dish has the consistency of thick porridge, about 20 to 30 minutes total (you might not use up all of the broth). If you run your spatula through the risotto, the risotto should flow slowly to fill in the space.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and butter until melted into the risotto. Stir in the reserved sausage and basil. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with additional grated Parmesan.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.