Tonight I didn’t have cream because I discovered yesterday that the only carton I had was spoiled (not a fun story), I wanted risotto, and I had a lot of imitation lump lobster and sweet bell peppers that needed using. So I improvised a risotto dish with a spicy tomato sauce, creating a fusion of three cuisines again: Italian, Mexican, and French, this time. I love combining elements from multiple cuisines rather than restraining myself to only one. You can get much more creative, and you also don’t have to worry about violating “tradition.”
Speaking of tradition, I know some people–even non-foodies–will balk at my use of imitation lobster meat rather than the real thing, but really, the stuff’s not that bad. It’s like seafood-flavored tofu with a nice hint of sweetness–it will absorb whatever flavors you add to it without overpowering the dish like some meats can do. Yeah, I’d prefer to use real lobster, but I have to save money somewhere.
Anyway, I would call this risotto dish an overall success. It was what I wanted: light, spicy, a little sweet, and a touch of fish flavor. And it was nice to break away from how I usually make risotto. I often find that risotto seems too rich, even with extra broth and half and half instead of heavy whipping cream like many recipes will tell you. Trust me, if you stir in cheese, half and half will provide more than enough rich. Unless you just want risotto to be a thick cake-like thing, in which case you probably don’t even want risotto (lasagna, maybe?). However, if you want something a little light but big on flavor, tomato sauce (not paste!) is a good alternative to cream. Just make sure to add some sugar, salt, and spice to it. Tomato sauce can easily taste bland if not seasoned properly.
Here is what I used:
- Assorted peppers (it doesn’t really matter what kind)
- Arborio rice
- Chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- Bay leaf
- Chipotle pepper
- Tomato sauce
- Imitation lobster meat chunks (or real lobster if you’re that kind of person)
- Green onions, for garnish
- Parmesan cheese, for garnish