Brown Rice Risotto with Peas and Potatoes

A celebration of the beautiful spring pea, with a healthful twist on my regular recipe, and full of flavor!

When the peas start coming fast and furious, we’re all happy. Few vegetables are more perfect and versatile as the pea, and none more fleeting in its season, all the more reason to cherish. The sugar snap peas appeared at the farmers market this week, and I was delighted to find them nestled with the radishes and turnips. Tender, with edible pods, they sing of late spring.

The gentle art of shucking peas

English peas, also called garden or shell peas, are my favorite, and although the actual pods are too tough to eat, you can use them to make an extremely flavorful stock. Pea flavor in abundance. When they arrive in their flurry, I’ll have a quiet time with a cup of tea, shelling the peas the same way I did when I was a kid at my mother’s table. A nice time to chat about most anything. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, it’s my turn now, and I enlist the grandkids help. You can get pretty fast at it, if you like, or take your time. All nice memories.

Stem, leaf, flower, and fruit, all edible in some way and delicious

Snow peas, another edible pod pea, will follow soon, but we’ll concentrate on those later. In fact, edible pod or not, every part of every pea plant can be used in some way, and I like to take advantage of this. I don’t toss away flavor if I can help it!

Let’s go for a whole grain here

I experimented with my regular pea risotto recipe because as much as I adore using traditional creamy white arborio rice, I prefer to serve my family a whole grain. But organic brown arborio rice is really hard to find, and very expensive! I needed to put my thinking cap on.

And now, potatoes!

I’ve substituted my house short-grained brown rice, and in order to add a little extra starch to the dish, I added some starchy potatoes in the form of diced Russets. They lent enough extra creaminess to mimic the starch from the arborio, and the texture was a nice addition as well. Not traditional, but a few notches more healthful than using a white rice, and I hope I have not offended my Italian cooking friends.

A rice ritual

My granddaughter at 10 had already mastered the dish!

The grandkids and I love the process of making risotto. Yes, there are recipes where you don’t tend the pot as reverently, or even bake it in the oven, but it’s precisely the ladling routine that we love. A saute of the aromatics, coating of the rice, and ritual deglazing of the pan with wine or cognac, and slow addition of the stock a ladle or two at a time until the rice is cooked to a creamy consistency. You really feel like you’re cooking here, and it’s fun.

I really wanted to keep the flavor of the dish pure pea, so I resisted the urge to add the beautiful bulb of fennel I also found at the market, and a few herbs that were calling my name. The result is an extremely easy, pea-forward dish, a perfect late spring Sunday supper, whether using English peas or sugar snaps. Of course, any leftovers can be used to make arancini balls, or stuff peppers, or even a taco the next day!

Brown Rice Risotto with Spring Peas and Potatoes

  • 1 ½ lbs. English peas OR a pint of sugar snaps and cup of frozen green peas
  • 7 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large or two small leeks, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 ½ cups short grain brown rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups small diced Russet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp. chives, finely minced, save some for garnish
  • 2 tbsp. butter or vegan butter
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or vegan Parmesan

            Shuck the peas. You will have about 2 cups of peas to reserve for the dish. Place the pods in a sauce pan with the water. Bring to a boil with a little salt, cover, and simmer for at least a half hour. Dice the leeks and toss the trimmings into the stock pot as well, along with the peelings of the garlic. If you are using sugar snap peas, clean and cut them in half diagonally, then toss the strings and ends into the stock pot, below.

These little trimmings from the peas add immense flavor to your quick stock.

            Once the stock is done, strain it and place it back in the pot over a low simmer to keep it hot. It might sound like a lot of fuss, but it really is simple, a little simmering while you gather the rest of the ingredients, and the flavor those pods add is abundant.

            Heat a large, high-sided skillet over a bit higher than medium heat and add the oil. Sauté the leek until soft and add the garlic and rice to coat as well. Season with salt and pepper. Once the rice is well coated, toast for a few minutes, add the wine and stir well. Once it is evaporated, add a couple of ladles of the hot pea stock.

            Stir gently, but not constantly, and as the liquid evaporates, add a couple more ladles of the stock. After about 10 minutes, add the potatoes, and continue the routine. Put a little jazz on, and you’re all set for a bit.

            Once the rice is just about there, add the peas or sugar snaps and green peas and cook for a few minutes until they are tender.

            Remove from the heat and stir in the chives, The texture should be a bit loose, and if it is too stiff, add a bit more broth or water to loosen it up, then add the butter, and the cheese. Taste and check for seasoning. Garnish with pea shoots and flowers and anything else that feels like a spring celebration, and serve immediately!

This version from last year used English peas and potatoes, most delicious!

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72 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh, delicious! My mouth was watering as I read this post. I like the substitutions in your recipe. Sweet picture of your granddaughter.

    1. Thanks Laurie! I can’t decide whether I like this more or my mushroom risotto, both are among my favorite dishes. Granddaughter loves them both too!

  2. lisinmayenne says:

    Delicious! I love risotto, it is such a versatile dish and I’m totally with you on the joy of ladling! Shelling peas with a cup of tea, too . . . I’ve learnt something new today, I had no idea they were called ‘English’ peas! Using the pods to make stock is a great idea. We are enjoying a good outdoor English pea harvest, eating them teamed with the last of the asparagus, first globe artichokes, broad beans and braised lettuce. Seasonal food to love! 😊

    1. What an amazing bounty! We still have asparagus, and lots of lettuce. Spring fennel is just coming in, but artichokes will be quite a ways away for us!

  3. NativeNM says:

    This looks delicious Dorothy; risotto is so worth the time and effort!

  4. NativeNM says:

    This looks delicious Dorothy! Risotto is so worth the time and effort.

    1. Thank you! I love the making of the risotto as much as eating it. Well, almost as much!

  5. Sounds delicious! My husband too just picked up a bag of English peas from the farmer’s market and I’ve been wondering what to make, I’ll give this risotto a try!

    1. I’m sure you will love it Kalpana! Using the pea pods certainly makes a difference in flavor, and we feel good about getting as much out of those beautiful vegetables as possible.

      1. Dorothy the pea broth and the risotto turned out amazing! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe!

      2. You are welcome! And thank you for trying it out and sharing it. It’s too good a technique not to spread the word!

  6. I have never tried brown rice for a risotto. You make it look easy and delicious.

    1. Thank you! It was surprisingly easy, and the pea flavor was really well developed.

  7. Suzassippi says:

    If only I had grandchildren to help out! I could eat this for breakfast right now…but only since you cooked it!

    1. Thank you my friend! I love risotto or any rice dish for breakfast!

  8. Ronit says:

    Mouthwatering! Most risottos tend to be too heavy for my taste, but all these fresh ingredients you’ve added, definitely make it so much lighter. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit. It was a perfect spring Sunday dinner! And we loved the flavor of the brown rice.

  9. I love peas, but my husband can’t stand them. 🙂 Your grandkids helping to shuck reminded me of the hours I spent on a glider on my grandparents front porch shucking peas. My grandmother froze them so I shucked for several days and had the sore thumbs to prove it. 🙂 Wonderful photo of a beautiful granddaughter who has learned to cook from the master.

    1. Thank you Judy! Those memories are all so good, relaxing, you even had the glider! And we did get sore thumbs!

  10. Marilyn Dishes says:

    Looks very interesting!

  11. brwbmm says:

    You mentioned arancini! I love the idea of crispy rice balls which remind me of Japanese rice balls. Do you have an arancini recipe without meat?

    1. Let me see what i can find. I don’t think I’ve posted my recipe online, if I have written it down! I always make my risotto without meat, so that’s not a problem!

    2. Do you eat eggs Marjorie?

  12. Eha says:

    Am laughing! In Australia ‘peas’ are ‘peas’ – no ‘English’ about them! Only way they appear at the greengrocer’s! Geography again, it seems!!! Love rice, eat 75% brown for taste and health . . . this looks like a lovely recipe which will appear soonest on the table – thanks!

    1. When my mom said English peas, it meant we had some shucking to do!

      1. Americaoncoffee says:


  13. nancyc says:

    Another pretty and delicious-looking dish for spring! Since I’m a big fan of sugar snap peas, I think I’d make it with those—yum! 🙂

    1. The sugar snaps were my most recent, and I loved both the texture and the flavor in this.

  14. Aoc says:


  15. Forestwood says:

    What a lovely way to honour family tradition. I am saving this recipe. Looking forward to the snow pea recipe as my snow pea vines will soon be flowering.

    1. More to come my friend!

      1. Forestwood says:


  16. Jenna says:

    This looks and sounds divine, I haven’t had risotto in ages, it’s always a treat!

    1. Thank you Jenna. It is a treat, and we all love it here.

  17. The main reason I love this recipe is because of the memories it brought of lazily shucking peas with my mother-in-law while sitting on the back porch. She was such a calming influence in my life when I most needed one.
    We can talk about the addition of the potatoes another time!

    1. Somehow, I thought you might question the potatoes! I’ve actually made it with brown rice and no potatoes, and it was still pretty delicious! Not authentic, but good!

      1. No need to convince me. I’ll never turn down a good potato … or a risotto!

      2. Best of both worlds.

      3. You got that right!

  18. Nancy says:

    I need this now! Can I come over?

    1. Of course, the kettle is on!

  19. Sandhya says:

    Wow! Love the recipe and your post. How wonderful it is that your granddaughter has mastered the risotto too!

    1. All three of my grandchildren are masters! Now they know they can cook anything!

  20. Okay, you had me with spring peas!

  21. Americaoncoffee says:


    1. I’ve always loved gold stars!

      1. Americaoncoffee says:

        You are a cook star.

      2. Ah! So sweet!

      3. Americaoncoffee says:

        Your web address is different🥹

      4. How? I haven’t changed anything.

      5. Americaoncoffee says:


      6. Americaoncoffee says:

        Brown rice lives with me. I am pretty wholesome with grains.

      7. It’s one of my favorite foods!

  22. terrie gura says:

    Mmm, I love the sweetness of sugar snap peas, and that delicate crunch, too! I love to see how you improvised with the brown rice. I did find the elusive, expensive brown arborio once and attempted to make risotto with it. Lemme tell ya, that dish took nearly THREE hours to finish cooking! I guess the bran on the rice grains couldn’t take hold of the broth as easily. Yours looks way easier, and tasty too! Your grandkids will always remember your lessons, Dorothy. 💕

    1. That’s good to know Terrie! This did take longer than the arborio to cook, about 35 minutes, but nothing like three hours! Holy cannoli!

  23. Velva says:

    This looks delightful. I love snap peas, brown rice. You are rocking it with this dish.


    1. Thank you Velv! It all works beautifully together.

  24. Christy B says:

    Oh yum! I like everything about this one. We have been trying to eat more brown rice rather than white lately.

    1. I was really pleased at how this turned out! It’s so good to keep the grains whole whenever possible.

      1. Christy B says:

        They’re good for us and yummy too! 😋

      2. Oh yes, I think they have much more flavor and a nicer texture.

  25. HI Dorothy, this sounds very good. I actually have nut butter now.

    1. Thank you so much! The season of plenty has begun here.

  26. Great idea to make pea risotto with stock from the pods. Fresh peas are hard to find here, especially the smaller ones. I suppose I could use the large fresh peas in the pod to make the stock, and then use frozen small peas to put in the risotto.

    1. That would be a great plan! Frozen peas would be perfect here.

  27. Mouthwatering! I love all veggies but peas are one of my absolutely favorite! I loved shelling the peas as a kid 😉

    1. Good memories! You can’t multi-task while you are shelling peas, except engage in good conversation!

  28. I showed Larry this one, big mistake, he loves risotto! Hugs, C

    1. Ah! You’ll both love it!

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