Like what you see?

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to follow me along as I stumble through traveling and baking adventures. Sign up to receive The Traveling Cupcake via email or RSS feed - the links are on the right! Also, make sure to check out the mini traveling cupcake for all of my baby updates. Hope to see you again soon!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Risotto with peas

Growing up my father always had a big garden in the back yard. It occupies the back right corner of the yard, its size varying from year to year depending on how much time my dad had and how many vegetables he wanted to grow. Now that it's just him and my mom in the house the garden has gotten so big that sometimes I think it is going to take up the whole yard. But back when I was a kid I was fortunate enough to have grown up with an abundance of fresh vegetables during the summer months.

It would start with asparagus. The asparagus bed had its own separate location apart from the rest of the garden, seemingly posher than the humble potatoes and corn. As soon as we saw their little tips peeking up from the soil we knew the season was in full swing. It took many, many years for me to finally like the taste of asparagus (without a pound of melted velveeta cheese slathered on top, oh the horror). The same goes for peas.

One of the most vivid memories I have of growing up in my parents house was picking fresh peas from the garden. As a child I loathed the taste of cooked peas - somehow the only ones that I could remember were dull and brownish from being cooked too long in the microwave (sorry mom). But fresh peas, oh those were something different. My parents would send my sister and I out to the garden with a plastic bag and we were to fill it with peas. They were lucky if they ended up with half of the bounty that was growing, the other half in my belly with a trail of empty pods stretching out behind me. I'd seek out the perfect pea pod - not too big (as that meant the peas were too starchy and slightly bitter), not too small (you wanted to actually be able to eat something out of the pod) but just right - the peas would be sweet and tender, and I would gobble them up like candy.

These days I have a better appreciation for the taste of cooked peas, but even now I find it hard to get them cooked just right when we are dining out. And of course now in my life there is the British staple of mushed peas served with fish and chips. But even that is a tricky dish to get right. I don't have the luxury now of picking fresh peas from my parents garden, so the farmers market is my next best option. When I saw a bag of fresh peas last week I knew I had to do something remarkable with them. 

I have (slowly) been reading through The Silver Spoon (the holy grail of Italian cooking) and noticed a recipe for Risotto with Asparagus. And that's when the lightbulb went off - Risotto with Peas and Mint. It was my first time cooking risotto and I am hooked. These something so methodical and hypnotizing about stirring a pot for 25 minutes, slowly adding stock, stirring, stirring, stirring. This dish requires very few ingredients so it is critical to use the freshest, best quality ingredients that you can get your hands on.

Risotto with Peas and Mint
Inspired by a risotto recipe by The Silver Spoon cookbook

1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints) of vegetable or chicken stock (homemade or low sodium from the store)
40 grams (1 1/2 oz) butter
3 tblsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
350 grams (12 oz) risotto rice
1 cup fresh peas
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
Fresh mint, chopped, to taste (I used 10 leaves, about 1 1/5 tblsp chopped)

- Bring the stock to a boil. In a large sauce pan melt the butter and olive oil, add the onion and cook over low heat until the onion is slightly soft and starting to turn translucent. Tip in the rice and stir until the grains are well coated.

- Add a ladleful of the hot stock and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue to add the stock, one ladleful at a time, making sure that all liquid is absorbed before adding more, stirring constantly. This should take around 20 minutes, give or take a few minutes. After the last ladle of stock is added tip in the peas. Once all of the liquid is absorbed add the fresh grated parmesan cheese and chopped mint and stir just to incorporate.

- Add a few fresh mint leafs and grated parmesan cheese to serve. Makes four generous servings.


  1. What a delicious dish! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Emma and I spent a good month eating fresh peas this spring! I remember your dad's garden; can't even imagine how big it is now...

  3. @Greg Jerome So cute! Glad you have the same tradition with Emma :)

  4. @Eftychiayoure welcome! if you try it sometime let me know how it goes :)