September 21, 2016

Summers are made for food, family, and friends. A few days ago, I hosted a dinner to reflect on and to celebrate the wonderful summer we've had, and to cherish the last days of it.

Our summer was filled with long days at the beach, catching gorgeous sunsets, indulging in many piña coladas, long lines for ice cream, running from camp to camp. We greeted the days as the sun came up and said goodnight as the stars came out. Knowing the carefree vibes of the summer months would come to an end with the start of school and an endless schedule of events, I decided the best way to send off summer with love was with a fresh, local home-cooked meal amongst family and friends. 

I created this dish to be warm and cozy with a juicy twist – a fresh and delicious way to bridge the seasons!

After a day at Goose Rocks Beach getting sun-kissed and salty, I stopped by Pattens Berry Farm in Kennebunkport to find some fresh produce. While Finnley taste-tested the berries (all of which passed her standards), I found myself drawn to the bulging baskets of fresh, plump, juicy tomatoes. What's better than a freshly picked tomato with a dash of sea salt? 

My parents' have been raving about this amazing risotto recipe they discovered. Even after a summer spent eating caprese salads, I was still stuck on the juicy tomatoes in front of me, and the idea of pairing them in an elegant dish like risotto. Our next stop was Cape Porpoise Kitchen in Cape Porpoise for two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, a cookie for Finnley (of course), and some salt and pepper bread. 

Rocking an apron, with music booming, and vino poured, the meal was underway. After my little helper chopped basil, danced barefoot in the kitchen, and set the table, our end of summer meal was ready for its unveiling.

Endless Summer Risotto

Tomato Topping
  • 4 vines or 24 individual cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • cracked black pepper
  • sea salt
  • 20g (1/2 oz) butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, extra
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5 1/2 cups (2 1/4 pints) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Rough Pesto
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted and roughly chopped pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

To Make:
  • Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake for 1 hour or until soft.
  • Make rough pesto by roughly chopping the basil leaves and mixing with the chopped garlic, grated cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil. Set aside.
  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Simmer the butter, extra olive oil, onion and garlic for 6-8 minutes. Place the stock in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a slow simmer. Add the rice to the onion, stirring for 2 minutes or until translucent. Add the hot stock, a bit at a time, stirring continuously until the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente (about 25-30 minutes). Keep checking the rice as you may not need all of the stock (nothing worse than a soupy risotto). The rice should be soft but still have a bit of a bite to it.
  • When the risotto is done, stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve in bowls topped with the rough pesto and the tomatoes. Drizzle some olive oil over the top and serve. Serves 4.

 "Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.
Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."

-Jane Howard


Wishing you the very best vibes for the end of summer with your family and friends!











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