Our Maine garden’s overflowing with peas. I added them to my favorite lemony risotto, and the dish was a big hit. Creamy rice and bright, fresh peas with herbs—the perfect balance of light garden flavors and hearty comfort food. I love the blend of two kinds of sheep’s cheese: salty pecorino and nutty Abbey du Belloc, just rich enough with the peas, herbs and lemon. Delicious with steak or roasted chicken and a crisp salad. Make the broth a day or two ahead. The homemade broth and garden-fresh peas really make this sing. Adding the peas at the end lets them warm and just barely cook, so they’re full of flavor.
6-8 cups homemade chicken broth
Glug of olive oil
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
Wineglass of dry white wine or white vermouth
Freshly grated pepper and salt
About 4 cups of fresh shelled peas
Small handful of fresh chopped parsley
Small handful of fresh chopped dill
Juice of one lemon
Handful of grated pecorino (or parmesan)
Handful of grated Abbeye De Belloc (or other flavorful cheese)
1. Warm the stock in a saucepan. In a large Dutch oven (Le Creuset is great), sauté the onions and celery over medium-low heat until softened—about ten minutes.
2. Add the rice and stir to coat. Turn up the heat to medium. Pour in the white wine or vermouth; stir and let the liquid bubble away. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Add the warm broth one ladle-full at a time. Keep stirring to make sure the rice doesn’t stick. As soon as the liquid absorbs, add another ladle-full. You can keep the pan pretty hot; stay by the stove and stir almost constantly. You’ll probably turn down the flame a little as cooking progresses.
4. Start tasting the rice about 20 minutes after you add it. You want it al dente, with a little firmness at the center of the grain. When it’s just about done, turn off the heat and stir in the peas and a little more broth; then the herbs, lemon and cheese. Stir and cover for about five minutes to let the flavors combine. The rice will cook a bit more, too, as it sits.
5. Check the seasoning and serve immediately.