How to make Risotto – Pea and Parmesan Risotto.
Risotto is the ultimate comfort food. A plateful of risotto is something I make for myself when I’m looking for an easy meal that I can put together from ingredients I have in the cupboard, fridge or freezer. Once I learnt how to make risotto, it became addictive. While other people fret about stirring the rice constantly, I find it cathartic. And, there’s something magical about turning a cupful of rice, a little stock and a handful of cheese into a delicious, creamy, filling meal. That’s what makes this pea and Parmesan risotto so special.
The first thing to understand about making great risotto is that you need to use the right rice. There are several varieties of rice which are suitable for risotto, each with slightly different characteristics. You need Italian short-grain rice – Arborio, Vialone, Nano, Baldo or my own favourite Carnaroli. It’s no use thinking that you can compromise with basmati or Uncle Ben’s – short grain rice has a high starch content. As the risotto is stirred, the starch is released to make a stickier mixture. And, it absorbs less liquid so you get that lovely nutty texture.
Next, you need to make sure you have a good stock. Depending on the final flavour that you want, you can use vegetable stock, fish stock, chicken stock or even a meat stock. I tend towards using chicken stock but for some ingredients, the homemade chicken stock would be too strong. Fish stock can be made easily by boiling fish bones and shells. Even a simple vegetable stock made with celery, carrot, onion and some herbs will produce better results than a stock cube. If you really can’t find a homemade stock, I’d suggest buying the best quality pre-prepared you can – I like the Essential Cuisine range.
You do need half a glass or so of dry white wine, a little butter or olive oil and Parmesan cheese (or Grana Padano for a vegetarian option). After that, the ingredients are up to you.
For me, the simplest risotto ingredients are often the best. I keep peas in the freezer and so making a pea and parmesan risotto is something I can usually do without having to go to the shops. It’s a quick supper dish to throw together – about 20 minutes from start to finish – and it’s a dish I can pimp up with a little ham, a few leftover prawns, some asparagus, a handful of chicken pieces or a sprinkling of parsley from the garden. So it costs next to nothing.
Here’s how to make your own.
Pea and Parmesan Risotto
- 150 g Carnaroli rice
- 15 g Unsalted butter
- 100 ml Dry white wine
- 1 ltr Stock I used homemade chicken stock
- 50 g Fresh or frozen peas
- 40 g Parmesan or Grana Padano Cheese
- 40 g Cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1 Banana shallot, finely diced Optional
- 1 handful Fresh herbs
- Melt 25g of butter in a heavy-based pan
- Heat the stock to a gentle simmer - I tend to do this in the microwave
- If you are using shallot, add it to the butter and sweat gently for a couple of minutes
- Add the rice and stir till all the grains are coated and the rice starts to turn translucent
- Add the wine, all in one go, stirring constantly
- Once the mixture is sticky and the wine is absorbed, start to add the stock little by little, stirring until it's absorbed, then adding more.
- As the stock is added, check the rice and once it starts to develop a 'bite', add the peas
- Continue to add stock until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite
- Take the pan off the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir through the grated cheese and the remainder of the butter
- Beat the mixture well until the risotto is creamy
- Garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately
This recipe is vegetarian if you use vegetable stock and opt for vegetarian cheese.
What’s your favourite risotto? I’ll be sharing more ideas on the Frugal Flexetarian because it’s the ultimate frugal recipe. With little or no meat necessary, it’s a great flexitarian option too. Finally, you can serve it as a starter, a side dish or a main course.
Thinking of making this yourself? Why not pin this recipe for later