It’s pea season! Make something fresh and lively, but don’t throw away those pea pods, turn them into stock for your risotto!
I love that old-fashioned term “mess of peas.” It reminds me of grandmothers on porches with children at their feet shelling peas (or shucking, depending on region) while talking about everything wild and wonderful in the world. My own grandchildren are now often enlisted in the pea popping duty once the English peas come into season, and it is one of the best seasons of all.
This week, I looked at the mound of vacated pea pods sitting in my colander and thought that although I’d frequently added them to a bunch of other vegetable trimmings to make stock, I’d never used them alone. That was all the thought process needed to toss them in a pot along with a few meager trimmings from a leek I was planning to use for risotto, and in a half hour I had the best tasting “pea stock” one could imagine! So flavorful! Honestly, it is the most “pealicious” stock you’ll ever have!
I had to make pea risotto.
This is a simple recipe. Arborio rice, a leek, a little white wine, pea stock, and a handful of pea shoots. Simple, but scrumptious! This is pea tripled, and so simple and delicious.
I general, about a little more than 1 ½ pounds of shelled peas will give you two cups of peas.
Now, in the winter, you could easily use frozen peas and make your pea stock from sugar snap or snow peas that are frozen or organically grown. I probably wouldn’t refer to them as a mess of peas, but they will do in a pinch! Just thaw the peas and toss them in at the end. Pea shoots are available around here in my winter CSA, but they have become widely available even in many supermarkets.
Sweet Pea and Leek Risotto
- 1 1/2 to scant 2 lbs. English shelling peas yield 2 cups shucked peas
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large or two small leeks, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup white wine, or stock
- 1 ½ cup arborio rice
- 1 quart pea stock
- 2 cups fresh peas
- 1 large handful of pea shoots, or a little more
Shell the peas and place the pods in a large saucepan with 5 cups of water. Shave the dark outside leaves of the leek and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to a simmer, and let work for 30 to 35 minutes. Strain the solids out, and add water if necessary to make a little more than a quart. Keep the stock warm.
Now you are ready to make the risotto. In a large skillet, over medium high heat, warm the olive oil and then add the leek. Sauté for a few minutes until the leek begins to soften and just start to brown at the edges. Add the garlic, stir for about 15 seconds, and add the rice. You want to coat every grain of the rice, but you don’t want to brown it, so be careful here.
Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper. Add a couple of ladles of pea stock, and stir gently and occasionally. Continue doing this, cook until absorbed and add more stock.
After about 15 minutes, add the peas. They will cook as the rice finishes.
Continue to add the stock until the stock is all used up and a taste of the rice indicates it is done. You want the rice to be cooked, with no hard center, so if it is not done, keep cooking, add a little more water until it is right. The end consistency should be loose, so that if you place it on a plate, you can move it around. It should not be stiff. Taste, and adjust seasoning if needed.
Stir in the pea shoots so they wilt, and if you like, you can add a little Parmesan at this stage as well, but taste first, you don’t want to cover up too much of that pea flavor. Plate and enjoy!
P.S. I garnished the top with the first of my own sugar snaps, way to small to pick, but I picked them anyway…
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