CSA Week 12 - Pesto Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I'm so sad that Autumn is upon us, but only because I dislike when it gets dark so early in the evening.  I want to go to bed way too early, and there's barely enough light to take these pictures of dinner for you guys!  And I absolutely loved this meal, so I just hope you'll trust me when I say this risotto is the best I've ever had, despite these grainy photos.  And that's saying a lot, because I love risotto.  I order it in restaurants often, and I make it at least once a month.  But this extra addition of hybrid pesto (I'll get to that...) just upped the ante so much.  I'm not sure I'll be able to eat risotto again without dreaming of this meal.
So early on in the CSA, I struggled with what to do with all of the lettuce I was getting.  I let the first week's lettuce go to waste, and vowed to find something to do with it the next time.  I decided to make a hybrid pesto, with half basil and half lettuce, and it would be perfect to freeze and use later!  Well, I busted out that pesto from the freezer when Eric came over, and we had this delicious risotto with roasted tomatoes on top, and roasted chicken on the side.  It was absolutely amazing, and the best pesto I've had.  I usually think basil pesto is a bit strong, so using lettuce was actually perfect for me.  If you'd prefer to keep the basil prominent, I'd sub 1/4 in, instead of half.  And of course, feel free to use kale, arugula, spinach, whatever, instead of lettuce, it's just what I had on hand.
Pesto Risotto:
serves 2-4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
About 4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup hybrid pesto (about half of the yield of the recipe below- freeze the other half for later!)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, roasted

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan on a back burner over medium heat.  You want this warm for when you're slowly adding it to the risotto, but you don't need it right up front.

In another medium sauce pan over medium heat, heat up the olive oil.  Add the diced onion and garlic and stir for 1 minute, until turning translucent and fragrant.  Add the rice and stir, until also turning translucent, about another minute.  Add the dry white wine and stir until it's completely evaporated/absorbed.  Add the broth in ladle fulls and stir until mostly absorbed by the rice, then add some more broth and keep stirring.  If the broth is evaporating off too quickly and not making the rice creamy and soft, turn down the heat a bit.  Once you'd added 2.5 to 3 cups of the broth, taste the rice to see if it's still too crunchy, or if it's perfectly al dente- creamy starchy sauce with just a bit of bite left in the rice.  Once it's al dente, add the pesto and stir.  Serve immediately, placing some roasted tomatoes on top.  (Roast them in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes)

Hybrid Pesto:
Ingredients:
2 cups lettuce leaves, washed and dried
2 cups basil leaves, washed and dried
1/4 cup pistachios
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil

Add the lettuce and basil leaves to a food processor and process for 30 seconds, to break up the leaves (you may need to add half the amount and process for a bit before adding the rest- depending on the size of your food processor).  Add the pistachios and garlic and process for another 30 seconds.  With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and process everything is uniformly chopped up.  You may need to add a bit more olive oil to bring it to the right consistency.  To freeze- place in a small tupperware container and drizzle oil on top to prevent it from turning brown in the freezer.
Enjoy!

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