I know peas are not everyone’s favorite vegetable, but for me they remind me of two things – spring and my childhood. Growing up, my grandmother grew peas in her garden, and we used to eat them freshly picked when they are at their sweetest. As soon as peas are picked, the sugars quickly turn into starch. For this reason, peas are most commonly available frozen, as that is the only way to quickly preserve their sweetness. Fresh peas need to be cooked as soon as you buy them, and to me it is worth the hassle of shelling them. Sure you can always buy frozen peas, and asparagus is available year round, but the short time of the year when these two vegetables are at their peak of freshness is like Christmas to me. This springtime risotto highlights the sweet and fresh flavor of English peas and fresh asparagus – mint and lemon zest add the perfect flavors to round out the dish. All I am saying, is give peas a chance.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 5-6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 bunch asparagus stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh peas, shelled
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup mint, chopped
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the chicken stock in a pot, keep at a simmer. In a large stock pot, or any heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the minced shallots and a pinch of salt, sauté until translucent. Add the rice, stir for about one minute until the grains begin to become translucent around the edges.
Pour in the wine, and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add one ladle of stock, stir frequently until liquid is absorbed. Add another ladle of stock, and stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed again. Repeat this process until almost all the stock has been used, and the rice is cooked but still al-dente. The entire process should take about 20 minutes.
About five minutes before the rice is done cooking, stir in the peas and asparagus. Add more chicken stock as necessary to continue cooking the rice. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and mint. Season with salt and pepper, serve immediately.