3.4.11

Springtime!

Today, when I left for work, I wasn't greeted with a blast of icy air when I stepped outside my house. There were birds chirping.
Yesterday, I babysat and when I walked from the train to the house, I saw flowers in bloom. 
A few days back, I saw not one, not two, but three robins in my yard. 
Is spring finally coming to New England? 
I went to my favorite market today and saw the surest sign of spring of all; bright sunny green peapods. Hurray!  I love peas. They might be my favorite vegetable and I wait for spring all year so I can have them fresh!  Pea season lasts for about five seconds, which is why I always buy them when I see them. And they go hard and starchy pretty much as soon as they're harvested, so it's important to get them fresh and use them as soon as you buy them.
This green pea risotto is so easy to make, and incredibly satisfying. It's so much fun to make your own broth, too! In non pea-season, this is still possible to make, since frozen peas are the only frozen vegetable that are always excellent.

Pea Risotto
Ingredients 
1 lb peas, shelled. Reserve shells for your stock
1 cup arborio rice
A big splash of white wine
Butter
1 onion, diced
Pea broth (see recipe below), or vegetable or chicken broth 
Pecorino cheese
Fresh mint, chopped

For broth:
All your peapod shells
2 onions, quartered with the skin still on
2 carrots, unpeeled, cut in rough chunks
2 parsnips, unpeeled, rough chunks
3 stalks of celery, greens included, chopped roughly 

Preparation
Make your broth. Put all the vegetables in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer for at least an hour, skimming the top occasionally. When it's ready (taste to make sure), season with some salt, and strain. Discard vegetables. (Also, you can add other vegetables, if you'd like more flavor! Just be sure to avoid any cruciferous veggies- though delicious and super healthy, the long simmering will make your kitchen smell terrible and will throw off the flavor of the broth!)
Bring your broth back up to a boil, then reduce heat enough so it doesn't boil over, and cover slightly to retain heat. 
In a large pan, heat about a tablespoon of butter and small splash of clear oil. Add your diced onion. Once translucent, add your rice and stir. You want to make sure it's well coated in butter. 
Add a big splash of white wine and stir to incorporate. The rice will absorb the liquid. Once absorbed, add a ladlefull of the hot broth. Stir constantly and watch the rice absorb the liquid. Continue this until the rice is plump and doesn't want to take any more liquid- it may be safer to reduce the amount of broth in your ladle after a few times, so it doesn't go too liquidy.
Right before your last ladlefull, add your peas. 
Remove from heat. Add a good chunk of butter, and lots, and lots of pecorino. It will disappear into the rice as soon as you stir it, but don't worry, you'll taste it. 
Season to taste, and serve with chopped mint leaves on top. White cheese, peas, and mint is a beautiful combination of flavors that I could eat every day...
Enjoy! And if spring is blooming where you live, enjoy all the lovely new produce!

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