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Spring Pea Risotto with Lemon and Pecorino
Spring Pea Risotto
with Lemon and Pecorino

Spring Pea Risotto with Lemon and Pecorino


Makes 4 to 6 servings
  • 1 cup shelled English peas* (about 1 pound unshelled)
  • 3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock or broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine**
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese (or Parmesan if you prefer) + more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (or mint)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
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Photo by: Signe Birck
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Sample step.
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Bring two cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the peas and cook for one minute, until bright green. Drain and plunge peas into ice water to cool; drain again.

Bring your chicken (or veggie) stock to a simmer in the same saucepan. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan (the wider the better) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or so, until translucent (but NOT brown!). Add the rice and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the grains are coated with oil and have nearly turned completely white. Toasting the rice at this stage gives it that nice firm bite that makes risotto such a study in textures: creamy and al dente all at once.

Add in the white wine and stir until the liquid has nearly all evaporated. Begin adding the stock, one ladle-full (or, if you don’t have a ladle, 1/2 cup-full) at a time, letting all of the stock absorb before adding more. Continue adding more stock, stirring frequently (but not constantly!), until all of the stock has been added. The whole absorption process takes around 18 minutes.

The rice should look creamy and tender at this point. Stir in the peas, lemon zest, lemon juice, cheese, butter, and parsley, and season with salt and pepper.

Cover and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes, and serve immediately. I like to bring a hunk of pecorino (or Parm) to the table with a grater, so everyone can grate a little extra cheese over their risotto. Mmmm…

*If you can’t find fresh peas, you can substitute 1 cup of frozen peas. No need to thaw, just follow the recipe as written, adding an additional minute to the initial boiling time on the peas.

**WINE PAIRING: You want something crisp to cut through the creaminess of this dish, and something light and spring-like to pair with the peas and the lemon. I suggest the citrus-y S’Eleme Vermentino 2007 ($11) from the Italian island of Sardinia. Simple and fresh, this wine has a nice acidity that pairs well with the lush risotto. Use half a cup of the wine in the risotto, have a glass while making the risotto, and serve the rest with dinner.

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