Ok, so it’s story time. This week, I went to my favorite place on earth (more commonly known as the farmers market) and picked up these absolutely gorgeous peas. See below for photographic proof of said absolutely gorgeous peas.
I brought them to Kyle’s house with some grandiose plans to make a bright green, summery hummus with peas and garlic scapes instead of chickpeas and regular garlic. It sounded great both in my head and on paper, so I set to work in Kyle’s little kitchen, shelling peas and blanching garlic scapes to my heart’s content.
And then I realized he doesn’t own a food processor. Just a blender. But like, those are basically the same thing, right? So I just whacked everything in the blender and started whizzing away. And I just kept whizzing and whizzing and whizzing and adding more olive oil and whizzing until I realized that this probably isn’t going to work and then all of a sudden it smelled like smoke and if I continued whizzing I probably would have burned the house down. I put my sad pea hummus in a bowl, but it smelled kinda burnt and still had massive hunks of unblended garlic scapes throughout. So, with a heavy heart, I dumped my once-beautiful little peas in the trash can and ordered sushi for dinner.
The point of this story is that sometimes (a lot of times) recipes don’t work. But sometimes, when one recipe doesn’t work, you come up with a better one to save the rest of your precious peas. Today’s recipe is one such success story. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner—all this green produce is just asking you to put it in a creamy, delicious, big-bowl-fulla-comfort risotto.
I think my favorite part of risotto is that it can be transformed to fit whatever ingredients you have lying around in your fridge. It transcends seasons in that way; I can just as quickly make a risotto with squash in the winter as I can with asparagus in the spring and summer. So this risotto is a bright celebration of all that gorgeous greenery at the market.
I’ll admit that I was scared of risotto once, but once you’ve got the general procedure down pat, it’s really not very difficult. It just requires a lot of attention, so don’t walk away from that pot and you’ll be good. The basic steps go something like this: sauté some alliums (shallots, onions, leeks, what have you) until they’re soft and fragrant. Add whatever other hardy vegetables you want (mushrooms, winter squash) and cook those until softened.
Add in yer rice (make sure it’s arborio) and stir for a minute or two. Then pour in some white wine, salt, and pepper, and cook until the wine is evaporated.
Now comes the important part. Keeping a watchful eye on the risotto’s consistency, add a ladleful of warmed stock at a time, stirring that baby constantly. Once you see that most of the stock is absorbed, add another ladle and keep stirrin’ until your arm feels like it’ll fall off. Once it falls off, put it back on and keep stirring. You can do this. Keep this process going until either a) you’ve used all your stock, or b) the risotto is cooked and looks like the consistency you want.
Then you’ve just gotta add in whatever other blanched veggies you want, a hefty handful of Parmesan cheese, and maybe even some fresh herbs, if you’ve got ’em. Then, voilà! You’ve got yourself a big ol’ bowl of steamy, cheesy comfort. You can eat it on its own as a main dish (an excuse to eat more risotto, tbh) or under a protein of your choice. Honestly, though, this stuff is good enough to eat all by its little self. So pour the rest of that wine, grab a bowl, and hop into something comfy, because this risotto is calling your name.
Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 35 mins | Serves: 3–4
- 1 cup asparagus, chopped into 1 1/2″ pieces
- 1 cup zucchini, sliced into thin half moons
- 4 cups vegetable stock or low-sodium chicken stock
- 3 Tbsp butter or olive oil, divided
- 1 leek, white part only, soaked to remove sand and sliced into thin half moons
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cubed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch asparagus and zucchini for 30–40 seconds, or until bright green and tender-crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard cooking water.
- In the same pot, bring stock to a simmer. Keep at a simmer on the back burner.
- On the burner next to the stock, heat butter or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until softened.
- Add mushrooms and continue cooking until softened and starting to brown.
- Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
- Add rice and sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine, salt, and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes, or until wine is mostly evaporated.
- Using a ladle, transfer about a cup of the simmering stock to the rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until stock is mostly absorbed. Continue adding stock by the ladleful until rice is cooked thoroughly and the risotto looks thickened and saucy.
- Once almost all of the stock is added and absorbed, add the asparagus, zucchini, Parmesan, and peas, stirring together until peas are heated through.
- Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Serve topped with more Parmesan and parsley, if desired.