Risotto With Some Snap


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As summer romances go, I’ve been a busy girl.

In addition to discovering and falling in love with the fish guy at the Brooklyn Heights farmers market, I’ve also been seduced by the New Jersey produce man just across from him.

What’s not to love about a giver of fat, red strawberries and deep green, flowering chives? Also, who knew fruit and vegetables from New Jersey could look so good? (I kid, I kid …)

On a recent Saturday, produce man’s beautifully plump peas caught my eye and snagged my heart.

Big, firm and just a gorgeous, gorgeous green, I decided then and there that they were too pretty to puree for a chilled pea soup. Instead, I began envisioning a summery risotto — and I had just the recipe.

I’d recently discovered a San Francisco-based food blog, Married … With Dinner, that I now enjoy a great deal.

This young couple’s goal is to cook and eat well — while taking the time to name the companies and little local farmers from whom they get their ingredients. I’ve discovered many little growers through this blog — and it all just makes me desperately wish I lived in the Bay Area.

With my New Jersey peas in hand, I thought it appropriate to try out one of their recipes. And the resulting pea and prosciutto risotto was just delicious.

Using super-fresh, crispy peas that create little green flavor bombs really adds another dimension to this dish. I highly recommend not using frozen or canned peas for this recipe if you can help it.

We should all be so lucky to have a good (produce) man in our lives.

Risi e Bisi (Venetian Style Pea Risotto)

(Slight variation on a recipe from Married … With Dinner and Molto Italiano)

2T extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
3 oz prosciutto, cut into thin slices
3/4 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
3/4 quart chicken stock, warmed
1 cup shelled fresh peas
2T butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for the table
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a tall-sided 10-inch skillet. Saute the shallots, celery, and prosciutto over medium heat until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes, until the grains become opaque.

Add enough stock to just cover the rice, and stir until stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock a ladleful at a time, waiting until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding the next bit. Watch the rice very closely at this point — you don’t want it to get so mushy it starts having the consistency of porridge. If it starts to look that way, stop adding chicken stock and move on to the next step.

Taste the rice, and season with salt and pepper. Add peas and cook for 4 minutes, until peas are just tender. Remove from heat, add butter and cheese, and stir until just melted. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese on the side.

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