Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Onion and Pea Risotto

My youngest son shouted with joy when he saw the baby goats at the farm we visited last week (and the calf and chicks too).  He has been obsessed with baby animals lately.  In every diorama at the Natural History Museum we visited over the weekend, he pointed all of the baby animals he saw.  Each time exclaiming, "It's a baby!  Aww...".  Coming out of the mouth of an almost three year old, it can't get much sweeter than that.

So when the farmhand allowed him to feed the baby goats some greens and hold a few week-old chick, I thought he was going to burst.  Truly it was the cutest thing ever, this little person who is usually so rough and tumble gently holding that little chick and falling totally in love with it.  My heart melted watching him.
It was the the promise of those baby animals that brought us to the farm that day, but it I was drawn in by the beautiful produce they had at the farm stand.  The moment I spotted the just-picked English peas on the counter, I knew I had to have them.  I absolutely adore fresh shelled peas.  And sitting right next to them were the tendrils of the pea plant.  If you're going for peas, you might as well go all the way, right?  So I picked up a handful along with some spring onions and began dreaming of lunch.

Spring Onion and Pea Risotto
This was a completely spur-of-the-moment lunch that I would make again in a heartbeat.  It was bursting with spring flavor and the sweetness of the pea flowers was a completely welcome surprise.  It will serve two as a generous lunch, or four as a side dish.

1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups low sodium chicken broth or home made stock
12 spring onions, roots removed and the bulb and lower greens chopped
1/2 cup freshly shelled peas (you can use frozen too)
1/3 cup pea tendrils, leaves and curly tendrils coarsely chopped and flowers reserved

In a medium skillet, heat two tablespoons olive oil.  Pour in the rice and the onions and stir for a minute to toast the rice.  Add the wine and let it simmer for a few minutes, until the wine is reduced by half.  Stir in about a half cup of broth.  Let the broth and rice simmer until the broth is almost completely absorbed, stirring once of twice.  Add another half cup of broth and continue the process of simmering, stirring and adding broth until the rice is creamy and almost completely cooked through.  If you taste a grain of rice, it will have just a slight bit of resistance to it.  The whole process should take about 20 minutes.  Add in the peas and chopped leaves and tendrils.  Stir and cook for just a minute.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Serve sprinkled with a few pea flowers.

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