Thursday, July 3, 2014

Peas 3-Ways Risotto with Mint

Peas 3-Ways Risotto with Mint

Three-ways can be a little controversial. Take, for example, the recent three-way between Pamela, John Ross and Emma on Dallas, which got tongues wagging. Well, this three-way is sure to get your tongue wagging too, but in a different way.

English peas have to be shelled first. You end up with about half as much peas by weight as you get with peas in the pod, so plan accordingly.

This risotto features three different types of peas: the basic English variety, which I've pureed, sugar snap peas, which are blanched and stirred into the cooked rice, and sautéed pea shoots (also sometimes called pea tendrils). All three types came from New Morning Farm, my neighborhood farmers market that I'm getting an even deeper appreciation for as I read the farmer's son's memoir, A Farm Dies Once a Year.
Sautéing the pea shoots

I also got to use some fresh spearmint from my garden. When I originally planted the mint in April, I put it in the same pot as a peppermint plant. This turned out to be a mistake. After a few weeks, the spearmint looked pretty unhappy, turning a dull shade of green with some brown spots. I repotted the spearmint so that it had its own, larger pot, and what a difference. Now the plant is vibrant green and growing steadily. Definitely going to be time for mojitos soon.

This is a pretty simple and adaptable recipe. To make it vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. You could even make it vegan by omitting the cheese and using only olive oil instead of butter.
Adding the pea puree to the risotto.

Peas 3-Ways Risotto with Mint

4 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine (I used a Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 lb. sugar snap peas, ends trimmed and peas cut in half
5 oz. shelled English peas (about 10 oz. unshelled)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 oz. pea shoots
Pinch of red chili pepper flakes
3 tbsp. fresh chopped spearmint
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

1. Warm the chicken broth in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

2. Heat butter in a Dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add rice and cook until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. Add wine and stir to combine. Cook until the wine is absorbed by the rice (when running a spoon across the bottom of the pot leaves a dry space). Add 2 cups of chicken broth, stir to combine, and simmer over medium heat until the broth is absorbed. Then, continue adding broth by 1/2 cupfuls, stirring to combine and waiting between additions until the previous addition is absorbed by the rice. In total, this should take about 20-25 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low to keep warm.

3. While the rice cooks, prepare the peas. Bring a large saucepan to boil over medium-high heat. Add the sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes. Remove peas from the boiling water and transfer to an ice-water bath. Add the English peas and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the cooked English peas to a tall container, add about 1/2 cup of warm water and puree with an immersion blender (alternatively, transfer to a food processor and process until pureed).

4. Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add pea shoots, season with salt and red chili pepper flakes, and cook until wilted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

5. Stir the pea puree and cooked snap peas into the risotto, along with the fresh mint and grated pecorino romano. Serve the risotto in shallow bowls topped with sautéed pea shoots.

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