Spring Pea Risotto
Nothing screams "Spring!" like a bright and beautiful pea risotto.
Everything about this dish is beautiful, from the color to the texture and all the flavor in between. Since peas are the star, I like to purée half the peas to brighten the risotto and then add the remaining peas whole so that the pea color and flavor pervades. Pea shoots make a lovely garnish, but so too do julienned sugar snaps (pictured). The little bit of crunch is such a pleasing textural contrast to—and actually really highlights—the creaminess of the risotto itself. As for that creaminess, a nob of butter, dollop of mascarpone, and sprinkling of Parmesan do the trick. This dish is all about showing off the skill of the cook and the majesty of the ingredients.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife, measuring spoons; dry and wet measuring cups; food processor; medium saucepan; ladle; large sauté pan with high sides or Dutch oven; wooden spoon; peeler
Ingredients: 4-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock, hot
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into ¼ -inch dice
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine 2 cups fresh sweet peas, blanched, divided 2 cups pea shoots, divided (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons mascarpone kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish 1 cup sugar snaps, julienne, for garnish (optional)
1. Warm the stock in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, turn the heat to the lowest setting and hold the stock at this temperature throughout the cooking process.
2. Purée 1 cup blanched peas in a food processor until smooth, adding some stock or water to facilitate the process, if necessary. Set aside.
"Frozen peas are just as good as fresh ones for this recipe, truly. It's all about technique, not torture!"
3. Heat a large sauté pan with high sides or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add the ¼ cup olive oil. Swirl to coat the pan and add the onion and cook until softened and translucent but not at all browned, 5-8 minutes. 4. Once the onions are translucent add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Add the wine to the toasting rice, and then add a 4-6 ladles of hot stock and cook over medium heat, stirring, until it is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid is almost entirely absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente (not at all gummy) about 20 minutes. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. 6. Stir in the pea purée, peas, 1 cup pea shoots if using, butter, mascarpone, and Parmesan until well mixed.
7. Portion risotto into 4 warmed serving plates, garnishing each dish with even amounts of the remaining pea shoots, if using, or julienne sugar snaps and Parmesan shavings.
8. Serve immediately.
"When the risotto is done, it's time eat. Immediately!"
Makes 4 main course servings.