Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fresh Green Pea And Shiitake Mushroom Risotto

She doesn't know it, but Simona taught me how to make risotto. It's true. Several weeks ago I was standing in her kitchen watching her make risotto, a dish I'd never tried to make, and there was my lesson. Having thought for years that this was a labor-intensive endeavor, I'd shied away from it. But the way Simona prepared it made the whole process look easy and fun. I think mine came out rather well for a first try.

Fresh shelling peas, shiitake mushrooms, cipollini onion and Claudia's garlic, all from the

Arcata farmers market (which is overflowing with vegetable goodness this time of year), plus basil from my garden, gave this dish a symphony of flavors. The arborio rice, I used Il Riso Beretta, absorbed the stock in just under 20 minutes and was perfectly al dente. What fun it was to stand at my stove and watch this come together.

Fresh Green Pea and Shiitake Mushroom Risotto
with inspiration from my friend Simona
6 cups chicken stock, heated
olive oil and butter for the pan
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 medium cipollini onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 small to medium shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup freshly shelled green peas, blanched
several pinches of kosher salt
several grindings of good black peppercorns
3 tablespoons parmigiano-reggiano, coarsely grated
1 tablespoon basil, thinly sliced

To blanch the peas, place them in a colander and set them into a large pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes.
Lift the colander from the pot and immediately place it, with the peas, in a bowl of ice water to cool and maintain their bright green color. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer. Cover and keep hot.
In a large skillet or wide-bottom pan, over medium heat, add several teaspoons good olive oil and a small spoonful of butter or Earth Balance, which is what I used.
When the butter has melted, add the minced onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté 3 minutes more. Adjust the heat, if necessary, so nothing browns.

Add the arborio rice and stir until every piece of rice is coated with oil then continue to sauté for about 5 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium-high and begin to add the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring until the liquid is absorbed before adding another cup. Keep doing this until the rice has become creamy and is just slightly resistant to your teeth.
Immediately remove the risotto from the heat. Check for seasonings, adding a pinch of salt and some freshly cracked pepper if desired.
Fold in the peas and the parmesan then sprinkle thinly sliced fresh basil over the top and serve.

This risotto is so full of good herby, veggie things that I can't help but to submit it to Weekend Herb Blogging. One of the most popular events among food bloggers, WHB is the brainchild of my friend Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and is coming up on its second year anniversary. WHB is being hosted this week by Myriam of Once Upon a Tart. Myriam will be posting the round-up next Sunday, Sept. 23rd so if you want to join in, click here for the rules, and send your post link to Myriam by Sunday, 3 p.m. Utah time.

Cook's Notes:
Now how easy was that? And my, oh my, was it good.
Yes, the peas are underwater in the photo. And if you look carefully, you can see a small piece of ice cube.
And it was darned hard to photograph the risotto. It kept wanting to come out yellow, when it really was a lovely, just slightly off, white.
I almost forgot: I heated 6 cups of stock but only used 4 1/2 by the time the rice was al dente, so please take that into consideration if you use this recipe. However, having more stock on hand is preferable to not having enough to finish the dish.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. I'm so glad you discovered how easy risotto is! I make it lots and it's a great way to use up leftovers...
    Yours is very pretty... and is making me very hungry...

  2. I am so glad you got inspired to try and make risotto and look at the beautiful result! Thanks for your kind words.

  3. Hi Katie,
    I was very surprised with how easy it is to make and will be doing it again.

    Thank you again, Simona, for your inspiration and friendship.

  4. Christine, I think that it more than came out well, look at how creamy it is and each grain of rice, yet wholesome.

  5. Thank you so much, Cynthia. It also passed Mimi's "is it just as good the next day for breakfast" test - it was fantastic just out of the fridge.

  6. It does look soooo good. I've never made risotto either. Maybe you and Simona could come to Utah and give me a lesson!

  7. Kalyn,
    Now THAT sounds like fun! But, you only have one sofa bed. What to do? :))

  8. Oh my, how very lovely it all is, from the market to the table. I really want to come out there and see for myself!

  9. I love making risotto and would have really enjoyed a cooking session with you and Simona~call me next time you girls get together!It does require much stirring and liquid and more stirring! Well worth the effort- and, your dish looks perfect!

  10. Mimi and Jann,
    You both are always welcome in my kitchen. I know we would have a great time!

  11. We get these ideas that something is hard to do and then work up terrible ideas in our head. I had a very similar experience. I'd read and read so many different recipes for risotto and couldn't bring myself to do it. Then one day I just decided if Italian women made this all the time everyday, I just needed to try it. You are so right Christine - so easy and so good!

  12. You've got to see what Katie at Thyme for Cooking just posted, Tanna. A lovely risotto, to be sure.
    You're right: there are so many things we don't do because of perceived degrees of difficulty. Such a shame. I'm trying to change my evil ways and tackle it all!


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