As much as a recipe, this was also a test of Trader Joe’s Arborio rice and Trader Joe’s Traditional Marinara Sauce (both reviews soon to come). What better way to test each than to combine them into one recipe? That was another thought that didn’t exactly work out well.
Arborio, like any rice, absorbs water as it cooks. Having the correct proportion of water and rice is the key to perfection. No secret there. So dumping in a jar of tomato sauce with some rice probably wasn’t going to work. The next thing to do was take a guess what would work. The 18 ounce jar of tomato sauce holds about two cups liquid measure. I first emptied the sauce into a pot. Then I filled the empty jar with warm tap water and stirred in two teaspoons of Better Than Bullion vegetable base. Add the now vegetable broth into the tomato sauce pot. By lower mathematics this concoction has a total volume of about 4 cups. Three of the cups are “fluids”. The other cup, by more guess-work, are the “solids” from the tomatoes. At least in theory I now had 3 cups of liquid for one cup of Arborio rice.
In summary, the result wasn’t as good as the expectation. Maybe the best way to do this, as other recipes on the net do, is make the risotto normally, heat up the sauce separately and top the finished rice with some tomato sauce? Sure is easier. But it could be the real answer is that tomato sauce just goes better with pasta than with rice.
1 – 18 ounce jar tomato marinara sauce
2 teaspoons Better Than Bullion Vegetable Base
1 cup Arborio rice
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 onion, diced for sauce
1/4 onion, diced for rice
3 cloves of garlic, diced for sauce
3 cloves of garlic, diced for rice
2 tablespoons olive oil – for sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil – for frying
2 tablespoons olive oil – for finishing
Empty the tomato sauce into about a 2 quart sauce pan. Fill the empty jar with warm water. Dissolve two teaspoons vegetable base into the warm water in the jar. Or, fill the jar with prepared vegetable broth instead. Empty the broth into the sauce pot. Add the parsley, basil, oregano, onion (for sauce), garlic (for sauce) and olive oil (for sauce) to the sauce pot. Stir, cover and warm the sauce mixture to a low simmer.
Add the olive oil (for rice), garlic and onion to about a 3 sauce quart pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice, stir and cook for about 3 minutes until the edges of the rice are translucent. Raise the heat if needed to keep the oil sizzling. Add about 1 cup of the hot tomato sauce mixture. Stir and bring to a low boil. Add the rest of the tomato sauce mixture a cup at a time, letting it return to a boil before adding more. Leave about 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce mixture in the sauce pot for later. Cover the rice and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Test the rice starting around 18 minutes. The rice should be al dente, firm but not hard. Continue the covered heating until the rice is done. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil (for finishing). Add enough of the remaining sauce mixture to make a wet but not soupy rice. Stir and remove from the heat. Let stand five minutes.