Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Cure for the January Blues: Tomato Basil Risotto with Bite Sized Sausage Meatballs

There is snow on the ground. Not slush. Not sleet or hail. Real Snow. And you know what, I actually don’t mind. Sure, it makes commuting a bit of a pain.  But it’s only a couple of inches so far, and it’s a nice change from the usual months-long-rain-storm we get here in Vancouver. And it is kind of cozy to sit by the "fire" and look out the window at the snow covered hills.  It makes me slightly nostalgic for my small-town childhood. But only slightly. The snow here should melt within the week, where as then it would last for at least four months.

* I say "fire" because I will not try to fool you (or myself) into believing that my apartment sized electric fireplace is any excuse for a real fire. Oh, what I would do to be able to warm my hands over a real live flame flickering away in my own living room.

Also, tonight I will be trying out skiing for the first time in, oh I don’t know, ten or twelve  years? I am excited and nervous at the same time, wish me luck!
This dish will serve to fill my belly and hopefully sustain me for the multitude of falls I’ll be taking.  It is surprisingly simple and quick to whip up, and is seriously delicious.

Tomato Basil Risotto with Bite Sized Sausage Meatballs
I used whole foods Lemon Herb Turkey Sausages, because of the lemon herb flavour, and also the leanness of turkey. I find whole foods chicken and turkey sausages really nice and moist compared to the average. But any sausage will really work here. For the tomato sauce, I used leftovers of some homemade marinara. Your favourite jarred tomato sauce will work great, and even plain old canned tomatoes will do, but they may need some extra seasoning. I am also loving the way a touch of lemon zest can brighten up a tomato based sauce, you really must give it a try!


2 Tbsp oil
1-2 Tbsp butter
1 Small onion, diced small
2 Cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
1 Cup arborio rice
1 Cup tomato sauce
3 Cups vegetable or chicken stock – brought to a simmer and kept warm in a small pot
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Small bunch fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
A handful of fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (about ½ - ¾ cup)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving
4-5 Large uncooked sausages

1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven over med-high heat. When oil is hot, add 1 Tbsp of butter and let it foam. Add the onions and garlic and reduce heat to medium. Sautee, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Careful not to let them brown.

2. Add the Arborio rice to the pot and continue to stir often, until the rice begins to toast lightly.

3. Add the tomato sauce, lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and stir until the rice has absorbed most of the sauce.

4. Keep the heat at medium-low. Add the warm stock about ½ cup at a time – stirring often and letting the liquid absorb fully before each addition. If the rice begins to stick, don’t be afraid to add more butter, about a teaspoon at a time. It will make your dish wonderfully creamy.

5. While the rice is cooking, start to form your sausages into little balls. Make sure you remove all of the sausage casing first, then divide each one into about 6-1 inch balls (Mine may be a little smaller, as I wanted truly bite sized). Shape the balls by rolling them between the palms of your hands.

6. After the last addition of stock add in the cherry tomatoes, about half of the basil, and a handful of Parmesan. Taste the seasoning and adjust if needed. Stir over low heat a little longer, the rice should be thick and creamy, and all of the liquid should be absorbed.

7. Heat more olive oil in a pan over med-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning when needed, until browned on all sides. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon over the meatballs to de-glaze the pan; you can also use red or white wine for this. Once the juice has cooked off, remove the meatballs to a dish and repeat with the remaining ones.

Top each dish of risotto with meatballs, more basil and Parmesan, and dig in!

Serves 2 huge portions (with leftovers), or 4 normal people.


  1. The recipes in this blog are just awesome. I will make all the dishes on the next dinner which will held at my place.