Risotto is creamy simply by its cooking process, as you probably already know. You could easily make this dish vegetarian (even vegan) by using veggie stock instead of chicken stock, almonds instead of bacon and nix the parmesan if vegan. I tried this with marcona almonds, and it was just as good, if not better, than it was with the bacon. Almonds will also lighten it up a bit--bacon is a good alternative for fall or winter when you want something soul-warming. Easy-peasy (pun intended). —Mary Catherine Tee
frozen pea with pearl onions, thawed and cooked according to package directions
fresh peas, shelled
butter or olive oil
fresh basil, roughly chopped
shallots, finely chopped
cloves garlic, finely chopped
dry white wine
good stock (preferably homemade chicken or veggie)
Once peas are shelled, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain in colander and run under cold water for about 20 seconds to prevent peas from cooking more. Set aside.
Meanwhile, puree cooked peas and pearl onion and basil in a blender.
In a large pot, melt butter/heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and finely chopped shallots and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in salt and cayenne pepper.
Add Arborio rice, stirring to coat with butter/oil. Deglaze pan with white wine and simmer until moisture has cooked out.
Add one cup of stock, stirring the Arborio rice constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. Once liquid has been absorbed, add 1 more cup of liquid, following the same direction. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked through. It should take the addition of 4 cups total, but it’s always good to have water or extra stock on hand just in case it takes a little longer.
Once risotto is cooked, stir in pea and basil puree. Stir to combine and keep on the heat long enough to heat through. Remove from heat.
Fold in fresh peas.
Top with almonds.
If you're not vegan or vegetarian, top with shredded parmesan and/or bacon.
I’m an old soul. My favorite Saturday morning activity is watching birds on the feeder while drinking strong, black coffee out of my favorite hand-thrown mug. My favorite place to kill time is in antique stores. The less organized the better. I like full-bodied red wines and bitter IPAs. I live for feeling the warmth of sunshine and hearing the stillness of freshly fallen snow. I can thank my stint in Alaska for that. I have salt water in my veins, having grown up in Eastern NC, and (shhh…don’t tell any of my Mainer friends this about me) I prefer blue crab over lobster.