Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lemon and Pea Risotto

Source: die katrin {flickr}
You know what I love most about food, and about Italian food specifically? You can be a purist, and follow a recipe, and get a wonderful meal, or you can change and adapt, and add in what you like, and as long as you get the basics right, you'll still have a wonderful meal!

Pasta, risotto and pizza are all like this - there are recipes that you can follow that are traditional, and delicious, like the bucatini I made the other week, and then you can go out on a limb and try something different, with amazing results. The caveat to all this, is that you must start with good basics. The perfect pizza base, and fresh, simple ingredients, and you have a delicious pizza. Good quality pasta, and some roasted tomatoes, and you have a quick, easy and tasty dinner.

And after all my fears, risotto has turned out to be as satisfyingly flexible and wonderful. I've made it with chorizo and courgette, with roasted vegetables, with broccoli and blue cheese - there seems to be no end to the wonderful things you can add to the oozy, cheesy, wonderful goodness that is risotto. And if you're like I was, and you've been thinking, "rice? really? meh." remember that this isn't just common or garden rice, this is cheesy, textural, wonderful rice. A totally different bird, really.

Lemon and Pea Risotto
Serves 2 (easily doubled)

1 onion, finely diced
Olive oil
Small knob of butter
250g (1 cup) Arborio rice
125ml (1/2 cup) white wine
± 1l (4 cups) stock (I use NoMu lamb, because that's what I have at home, but chicken, or veg will be fine. Use a good quality stock, not from a cube - that stuff is full of preservatives and salt)
1 lemon, juice and rind
250g (1 cup) frozen peas
grated Parmesan, to taste
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  1.  Fry the onion in a little oil and butter until soft and translucent - do not allow it to colour.
  2. In a separate pot, boil a litre of water, and add stock. Turn down to a simmer, and keep warm throughout the cooking process - add a little water if you think you'll run out.
  3. Add the rice to the pan, and toast in the oil and butter, making sure all is coated in oil, and it gets lightly toasted - a few minutes.
  4. Pour the wine into the rice, and allow to heat through, absorbing and evaporating the alcohol.
  5. When the wine has been absorbed, add the warm stock by the cup full, stirring to absorb between each addition. This should take 30-40 minutes.
  6. Using the small grater or a microplane, grate the rind from your lemon, and set aside, then juice it, being careful to extract the seeds.
  7. Add the rind and juice to the mostly cooked risotto, and add the frozen peas. Allow to stand with the heat off, while you grate the Parmesan.
  8. Add the Parmesan, stir to melt and mix, and allow to stand for a few minutes. 
  9. Add a knob of butter, stir, and serve.
This is fresh and light, a wonderful antidote to the exceedingly cold weather we've been having, but would be as good as a spring dish. The lemon keeps this bright and wonderful, and the peas give it a sweet touch. I also had some maple cured bacon on hand, which I fried up and chopped small, and added in at the end.

If you haven't tried risotto yet, do it! I was terrified, but now I'm making it once a week. It's neither difficult, nor onerous - give it a try!


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  1. "cheesy, textural, wonderful" - couldn't describe it better if I tried! Love the lemony flavours in this one.

  2. That's just what I love about Italian cooking as well. And risotto in particular. I love making it and have made it so many ways and lemon is a favorite!

  3. Oh risotto is DA BOMB! So easy and super-satsfying. Try roasted butterut and sage - a deeeevine combo!


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