Couscous Risotto with Tomato, Oregano + Mozzarella

December 31, 2013

Every week, Caroline Wright creates simple, civilized recipes for Food52 that feed four -- for under $20, in under 20 minutes.

Today: Caroline shares an unexpected pantry staple -- and a recipe to use it in.

Risotto from Food52

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Passata -- puréed tomatoes, usually uncooked -- is one of those ingredients that I always keep in my pantry, and I’m surprised that it isn’t more common. It lends that bright, tangy flavor of the quickest sauces made from summer tomatoes, so it feels special, somehow, to eat it on a cold winter’s day. This recipe is a pilaf masquerading as a risotto, using the swiftly simmered Israeli couscous pasta in lieu of rice. The result is warm and comforting, reminiscent of a fine risotto and ripe tomatoes.

Couscous Risotto with Tomato, Oregano + Mozzarella

Serves 4

1 1/2 cup passata (from a 24-ounce bottle)
2 cups chicken broth
6 sprigs fresh oregano, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 ounces fresh mozzarella, pulled into bite-sized pieces 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.


As a freelance food writer and cook, I first wrote this style of recipe as a column on my blog, The Wright Recipes, as an excuse to cook good food for my friends in a quick and simple way. 

Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute™ Meals grew into a cookbook that was published by Workman in May 2013. The recipes found here are original, made especially for Food52 to once again celebrate simple food with friends.

Photo by Caroline Wright

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Melissa Houghtalin
    Melissa Houghtalin
  • ATG117
  • Kate
Before her diagnosis, Caroline wrote a book on cakes called Cake Magic!. She started developing a birthday cake using her gluten-free mix found in that book. Check out other recipes she’s developing for her new life—and the stories behind them—on her blog, The Wright Recipes. Her next book, Soup Club, is a collection of recipes she made for her underground soup club of vegan and grain-free soups she delivers every week to friends throughout Seattle's rainy winter.


Melissa H. January 14, 2015
This is the BEST. So delicious, warming and hearty. I served alongside breaded chicken breasts.
ATG117 December 31, 2013
I'd never heard of passata. Have I been missing something? Is it sold at stores like WF?
Kate December 31, 2013
This looks amazing. I love the idea of a tomato-y risotto! Thanks for sharing.