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Luca Della Casa Stirs Up a Lively Risotto with Peppers and Tomatoes

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Luca Della Casa demonstrates how to make risotto.

There are a number of misconceptions about risotto,  including one that it is hard to make. Risotto is actually easy, but it does takes a little time to make, time to stir in the liquid while the rice is cooking.

That was one point chef Luca Della Casa made during a recent risotto cooking demonstration at GauchoGourmet, the imported food warehouse at 935 Isom Road.

He also showed that there are several different types of risotto. For the following recipe, he used Vialone Nano rice, which is different from Arborio, Carnaroli, Roma or others you may have heard of or used. Vialone Nano has a shorter grain and is able to absorb more of the cooking liquid as well as the sauce you use.

You can find it at GauchoGourmet, as well as the Calabria peppers and semi-dried cherry tomatoes that are featured. That means you can put this great dish together with items from your pantry.

Della Casa is currently catering in the San Antonio area and can be reached at

Risotto with Calabria Peppers and Semi-Dried Cherry Tomatoes

Extra-virgin olive oil
10 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1/2 cup white wine
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup Vialone Nano rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock, at a boil
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup calabria peppers, chopped (see note)
3/4 cup semi-dried cherry tomatoes, chopped (see note)

Luca Della Casa (left) and his assistant Matt Foster demonstrate how to make risotto.

Note: Calabria peppers are a hot red Italian pepper; it you don’t like spicy foods, don’t use them. Semi-dried cherry tomatoes are dried only 65 percent and preserved in sunflower  oil.

For the sauce, start a soffritto by cooking in a  little olive oil the anchovies, chopped onion, garlic and cappers. Add white wine and let evaporate. Crash tomatoes in the soffritto and cook slowly for 40 minutes. Adjust with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar if acidity is too high.

While the sauce is cooking, take a saucepan with a lid and toast the rice in a little oil. Add white wine and let evaporate. Stir in boiling chicken stock a little at a time. Wait for the rice to absorb the stock before adding more. When the rice is completely cooked, turn off the flame and add the Parmesan and the butter and stir to melt everything.

Cover and set aside to check on the sauce.

When the sauce is ready, combine it with the risotto and finish with chopped calabria peppers and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Makes 4 servings.

From Luca Della Casa

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