The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

tomato and spinach risotto with confit tomatoes and basil puree

This recipe for tomato and spinach risotto with confit tomatoes and basil puree is the latest in a monthly series of recipes I have created in partnership with Suma Wholefoods.

In these recipes, I use products from Suma’s extensive range of organic and ethically sourced products, and the recipes appear both here on my blog and on the Suma website.

tomato and spinach risotto with confit tomatoes and basil puree


for the risotto
180 g arborio rice
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 x 400 g tin organic chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp organic tomato puree
150 g organic spinach leaves, tough stalks removed, chopped
600 ml vegetable stock
25 g nutritional yeast
½ tsp dried basil

for the confit tomatoes
12 cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, whole, skin on
2 sprigs fresh thyme
approx 350 ml extra virgin olive oil

for the basil puree
35 g basil leaves
25 g pistachio kernels
juice of half a lemon
pinch sea salt
30 ml extra virgin olive oil


1. Place the basil leaves, pistachio kernels, lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil in a blender and process to a smooth puree. Tip this puree into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 140°C (275°F, gas mark 1). Place the cherry tomatoes in a small baking tray with the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. Cover with the olive oil to a depth of 2 cm, so that the tomatoes are semi-submerged. Place in the pre-heated oven and cook until the tomatoes are tender but still keeping their shape, which will take about 20-25 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and use a slotted spoon to gently remove the tomatoes and garlic cloves. Drain on kitchen paper and set to one side. When cool enough to handle, remove the roast garlic cloves from the tray and carefully squeeze the pulp out onto a small clean plate. Save the cooking oil. Some of it will be used in the risotto, the rest can be saved for use in dressings and other dishes.

3. Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Place a large frying pan or skillet over a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil that was used to confit the tomatoes. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, until it is soft and translucent. Add the rice and the roast garlic pulp and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the sea salt, smoked paprika and dried basil before adding the chopped tomatoes, the tomato puree and a ladle of stock. Keep stirring, adding a ladleful of stock whenever the risotto appears dry. Continue to cook, adding stock a ladleful at a time in this way, until the rice is “al dente”, which will take about half an hour. Keep a ladleful of the stock in reserve.

4. Add the chopped spinach, along with the reserved ladleful of stock. Cook, stirring, for a further two minutes by which time the spinach will have wilted. Stir in the nutritional yeast and remove from the heat.

5. To serve, place a serving of the risotto in the middle of each plate (use a cooking ring to give it shape, if you have one). Surround with three “blobs” of the basil puree and carefully place a confit cherry tomato on the top of each blob of puree.

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian


11 replies

  1. What a very sophisticated recipe ! I love risotto and make one often but have never cooked it in such an interesting manner. Shall try soonest.For me the bonuses lie in the confit tomatoes, which also are a newbie and the easy-to-make basil puree – I can see myself using both in a variety of ways. Fun cooking for friends ! Can see myself serving this Italian-style with this as primo piatti followed by a grilled marinated lamb or pork chop for instance . . . thanks !

    • Thank you Eha. It would be an ideal dinner party dish. Who know when that might next be possible… Steve x

  2. Classy recipe. Nice that it includes ways to re-use the cooking oil.

  3. Your blog pictures are always lovely to look at. Thank you for sharing the recipe. Will try it soon … I had couple of questions though… … Is using nutritional yeast necessary? Will not using it alter the taste drastically?

    • Thank you! Nutritional yeast is not necessary. If you are not vegan you can use grated Parmesan instead. Leaving it out altogether will alter the taste, but you would still have a tasty dish. Steve 🙂

  4. Nice blog to follow while preparing recipes.Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  5. That looks wonderful. I love risotto though I don’t eat it very often. I have actually never tried it with tomato but as always you have inspired me.

Leave a Reply