I will never forget the first time I tried a Risotto dish at an Italian restaurant. My vegetarian date was all aflutter about this particular Italian recipe called ‘Risotto al pomodoro’ so it was the must-have dish on the menu for me that night, and it was not cheap! Now, when the ‘Risotto al pomodoro’ arrived at our table, I could not suppress a quick laugh. Immediately, I recognized the dish as similar to my grandmother’s recipe for ‘Domatorizo’ (pronounced “Doe-ma-TOW-reezo”). But, my grandmother had never been to Italy, and in fact, I would have been surprised if she would have been able to point Italy out on a map… About all that my grandmother knew about Italy and Italians was that they had attacked Greece along with the Germans in the Second World War, when she was a young woman.
So, I ate the ‘Risotto al pomodoro’ that night and it was tasty enough, but with the memory of my grandmother’s recipe playing about in the back of my mind and along the edges of my tongue, I could not say it was a fair comparison. Now, I love Italian food so don’t get me wrong, I just think that my grandmother’s ‘Domatorizo’ soundly whipped the competition, and I would put it up against any similar Italian Risotto recipe any day of the week and twice on Sundays!
In point of fact, my grandmother’s contribution to this dish was the ‘tomato with rice’ element to which she occasionally added pine nuts and/or raisins, whereas I added the feta cheese, oregano, and green onion, which makes this recipe one of my signature dishes.
1 cup (250 ml.) arborio rice
1 cup (250 ml.) fresh tomato juice (or strained tomato pulp)
2 cups of water
¾ cup (190 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
½ cup (125 ml.) of crumbled or cubed Greek feta cheese
3 tablespoons dry white wine1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml.) of tomato paste
1 fresh green onion
Salt & Pepper
1 pinch dried Greek oregano
*optional: 1/4 cup of pine nuts and/or golden sultanina raisins from Crete
1. In a medium sized saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil until soft and then add the rice and continue to stir into the onion at a high heat for 2 minutes.
2. Add the fresh tomato juice/strained fresh tomato pulp and the wine to the rice and let simmer for a few minutes, stir the rice often to keep it from sticking to pan bottom.
3. In a separate, smaller saucepan, mix the 2 cups of water with the tomato paste and bring to a boil.
4. Add the boiling water with tomato paste from the smaller saucepan into the simmering rice in the medium saucepan along with salt and pepper to taste (and the optional pine nuts/raisins), stir well and cover to simmer over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Make sure to occasionally stir the rice (about every 2-3 minutes or so) to ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
5. When the rice is cooked remove the saucepan from the heat and cover the pan with a cotton cloth before covering it with the lid. Let stand for 10-15 minutes.
6. Spoon rice into serving bowls and add some of the cubed/crumbled feta overtop. Sprinkle the feta with a pinch of dried Greek oregano and garnish the dish with some finely slivered or chopped fresh green onion.