Catherine Fulvio is one busy lady these days. In addition to running Ballyknocken House and Cookery School in County Wicklow, she’s been filming her new series, Catherine’s Roman Holiday,* which premieres tomorrow in Ireland at 8:30 p.m. on RTÉ, doing cooking demos at summer festivals like Bloom and Taste of Dublin, and writing a fantastic new cookbook, Catherine’s Italian Kitchen, which was released last week.
Catherine was brought up at Ballyknocken, a traditional Irish farm that has been in her family for almost 100 years, and learned to cook from her mother by “hanging onto her apron strings.” Imbued with an appreciation of good food from an early age, the Italian twist in the tale is when she met her husband, Claudio Fulvio, who is originally from Palermo. They and their two young children now spend summers at their other home in Sicily, where Catherine is inspired by their Italian family and friends. This inspiration has translated into a cookbook full of easy and family-friendly recipes that are suitable for all levels of cook and which use ingredients that can be commonly found outside of Italy, meaning anyone can enjoy Italian flavors in their own kitchen, wherever you might be.
This oven-baked fennel sausage and tomato risotto is the first dish that jumped out at me to make, which is no surprise, seeing as how much I also like this cherry tomato and sausage bake. I particularly like this recipe since it has more vegetables than my other favorite risottos, and my kids happily devoured it. Catherine’s eggplant “meatballs” (polpette di melanzane) are already a favorite that I’ve made several times since watching her make them on her first TV series on RTÉ, and that recipe is included in her cookbook now as well. Other recipes I’ve bookmarked to try are the Leek, Gorgonzola and Walnut Pizza, Pistachio and Asparagus Penne, Braised Beef with Garlic, Lemon and Chili, and last but not least, Amaretto and Almond Truffle Tort.
We have a copy of Catherine’s Italian Kitchen to give away, so for a chance to win, just leave a comment telling us what Italian dish you’ve got a hankering for. The winner will be randomly chosen and the competition will close at midnight (US Central Time) on Friday, September 10. As Catherine would say, Buon appetito!
Oven-baked Sausage and Tomato Risotto
adapted from Catherine’s Italian Kitchen by Catherine Fulvio
Serves 4 to 6
The original recipe calls for Sicilian fennel sausages, but Italian sausages or good-quality butcher sausages are good substitutes. Catherine notes that this risotto won’t be creamy since there’s no constant stirring, but it’s just as delicious and is a great no-fuss weeknight option.
extra virgin olive oil
1 lb (450 g) Sicilian fennel sausages, Italian sausages or good-quality butcher sausages (I used garlic and herb)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 3/4 cups (300 g) Arborio rice
1 carrot, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 pints (750 ml) chicken stock
1 x 14 oz (400 g) can of cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine or vermouth
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan shavings, to serve
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan or casserole dish over a medium heat. Cook the sausages for 15 minutes, until fully cooked. Remove from the pan and slice into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Add the onion to the pan and saute on a low heat for 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the rice, carrots, celery and parsley. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring from time to time. Return the sausages to the pan.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the chicken stock and tomatoes, then add the wine, stock and tomatoes to the casserole dish. Stir and cover with foil or a lid. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 45 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is just tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with Parmesan shavings and serve.