It’s pea season and herb season and all-fresh-produce in between season! I lived for these days when living in Alaska. When I visited the lower 48 in the summertime (or Hawaii in the wintertime), I would stuff my carry-on with fresh produce—I’ve smuggled tomatoes, okra, figs, pears, and fresh corn over the Alaska border, ya’ll. Tomatoes come to mind first and foremost. I have had my fair share of mealy, flavorless, gag-worthy tomatoes in my short life. And take my word for it: life is too short to eat bad tomatoes.
There are two farm stands about 10 minutes from my house (one sales produce, the other sales farm fresh beef and pork…slaughtered, processed, and packed right there on the family farm) and now that the weather is warmer, those are my only two stops for groceries.
This past week, native peas started coming off the vines. Huge bags were $5, so it was a no-brainer. I was bound and determined to make something delicious with those perfectly dimpled sweet peas. I consulted my pantry and came across a nice cache of risotto. Native Pea risotto was on the menu. In full disclosure, I used a couple cups of frozen peas and pearl onions for the puree in this recipe because I REALLY needed to clean out my freezer. So the meal wasn’t entirely farm-fresh. You could just as easily use fresh peas for the frozen variety or vice versa. Let’s not be food bitches here!
I also used my go-to chicken stock recipe which is in the pages of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1. I used that in this recipe for a full-bodied chicken flavor because every cook is right: homemade stock is always best.
You could easily make this dish vegetarian (even vegan) by using veggie stock instead of chicken stock, almonds instead of bacon (suggestion is in the recipe) and nix the parmesan if vegan.
For the leftovers, I highly recommend having it the next morning (or afternoon or evening) with an over-easy egg on top.
- 2 cups frozen peas with pearl onion, cooked according to package directions
- 2 cups of fresh peas, shelled
- 2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil (I used 1Tbsp, each)
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp. cayenne
- 1 cup Arborio rice or other short grain variety
- ½ cup white wine
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided into one cup measurements
- Parmesan and black pepper to taste
- Bacon or slivered almonds to top
- Once peas are shelled, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain in colander and run under cold water for about 20 seconds to prevent peas from cooking more. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, puree cooked peas and pearl onion and basil in a blender.
- In a large pot, melt butter/heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and finely chopped shallots and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in salt and cayenne pepper.
- Add Arborio rice, stirring to coat with butter/oil. Deglaze pan with white wine and simmer until moisture has cooked out.
- Add one cup of stock, stirring the Arborio rice constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. Once liquid has been absorbed, add 1 more cup of liquid, following the same direction. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked through. It should take the addition of 4 cups total, but it’s always good to have water or extra stock on hand just in case it takes a little longer.
- Once risotto is cooked, stir in pea and basil puree. Stir to combine and keep on the heat long enough to heat through. Remove from heat.
- Fold in fresh peas.
- Top with shredded parmesan and bacon or almonds.