It’s been a while since I posted a recipe inspired by our trip to Cape Town. This one is a version of the Tomato Risotto I had at Sand at The Plettenberg Hotel in Plettenberg Bay.
Sand is one of the restaurants in the Liz Mcgrath Collection of three hotels overseen by the Grand Chef, Peter Tempelhoff. I have been lucky enough to have eaten at all three. I had an unforgettable passionfruit souffle at The Marine, Hermanus a few years ago that I must remember to have a go at with my next lot of passionfruit.
I had one of the best meals of my life, a 7 Course Vegetarian Tasting Menu at The Greenhouse , Cellars Hohenort, awarded restaurant of the year and number 1 in South Africa, this year. More of that in a future post, I am still trying to get close to replicating one of the recipes from that memorable meal, but failing miserably at the moment. I can see why he is a multi award-winning Grand Chef.
Above are some pictures of the beautiful meal I had at Sand prepared by the very capable sous-chef , Tronnette. We were presented first of all with some Baked Rosemary & Sea Salt Lavash with Aubergine Puree and a Melon Shot with Cucumber Salsa Bruschetta. For a starter I chose the Double Baked Underberg Cheese Souffle with Chive & Parmesan Veloute which was light, fluffy and creamy, the best savoury souffle I have ever had. A Tomato & Artichoke Risotto was prepared especially for me (being vegetarian). It had an intense tomato flavour (from the stock I think) that made it particularly special. The dessert was a Madagascan Vanilla Creme Brulee, Coconut Foam, Marshmallow Compresse and Pineapple Almond Biscotti, this was totally amazing!
They very kindly sent me the recipes for both the souffle and the risotto. So, with it being summer here now and with tomatoes being at their cheapest and best at the moment, I had to make the risotto first. I added some saffron for colour and for that extra Spanish touch and topped it with my favourite tomato friends: basil, pine nuts and parmesan. They were meant for each other.
The first part of this recipe is making a tomato fondue (or sauce) to add into the risotto when it is cooked. You could skip this part if short on time and replace it with some shop-bought tomato pasta/marinara sauce.
Tomato & Saffron Risotto with Basil Pine Nuts & Parmesan
Serves 4, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from Sand at The Plettenberg recipe
For the tomato fondue (sauce)
- 2-4 ripe tomatoes, I used 2 huge Spanish ones that hardly have any seeds
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- salt & pepper
Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for about 20 seconds, drain and remove the skins, seeds and chop the tomato flesh. Cook the onion in olive oil for a few minutes with a pinch of salt then add the garlic & oregano and cook for another minute. add the tomatoes and cook until softened. Add the ketchup, sugar and season with salt & black pepper. Cook until reduced and thickened. Taste and adjust sugar/salt as required. Set aside.
For the Risotto:
- 350 g risotto rice
- 1 litre vegetable stock (I made my own recipe here using lots of tomato to intensify the tomato flavour)
- a big pinch of saffron
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- a pinch of dried chilli flakes
- 150 ml sherry or white wine
- about 120 ml (1/2 cup) tomato fondue/pasta sauce (see recipe above)
- 200 g cherry/baby tomatoes (on the vine if possible)
- olive oil
- salt & black pepper
- 30 gr grated parmesan or manchego (vegetarian) plus shaved for garnish
- a hand ful of basil leaves juliennned, plus leaves to garnish
- a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- 40 gr toasted pine nuts
Put the veg stock and saffron in pan over a medium low heat to warm up but not boil.
Meanwhile, cook the onion in the olive oil with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for 3 minutes then add the garlic, oregano & chilli flakes and cook for another 2 mins. Add in the rice stirring to coat in the oil and cook for 2 minutes before adding the sherry/wine and cook until it is dry.
Start by adding 2 ladles of the hot stock to the rice and swirl the pan until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add another ladle of stock, wait for it to be absorbed, swirling and continue like this until the rice is cooked and you have used all of the stock. If you run out of stock you can add hot water. Then stir in the tomato fondue/sauce.
Stir in the grated parmesan, sliced basil, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper. Remove from the heat and put the lid on.
Preheat a griddle pan (or frying pan if you don’t have one), season the cherry tomatoes in a bowl with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat. Cook them on the griddle pan until you get black marks and they start to soften.
Taste the risotto for seasoning and serve topped with a pile of cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts and basil leaves.
Sand at The Plettenberg
Look-out Rocks, 40 Church Street
P. O. Box 719
Plettenberg Bay 6600