Friday, June 15, 2012

Risotto with English Peas and Morels

                             “There is a season, turn, turn, turn,”

Before they are all gone: Risotto with English Peas and Morels
(Listening: Linde Consort- “Altenglische Consortmusik”)

When you shop at a farmer’s market you are made aware of the shortness of the season for different vegetables. Last week, one farm had English peas, but this week they were replaced by snow peas. But another farm brought their just picked their peas. Morels are still appearing, but for how much longer?

Time to make this risotto.

If you are using fresh peas, save the pods and turn them into a broth to use in the risotto. Rinse the pods and place them into a medium-sized saucepan. Add a piece of onion and some chopped celery; exact quantities aren’t important, more a matter of what you have in your refrigerator. Fill the pot with 5 to 6 cups of cold water and season with ¼ teaspoon salt. Place the pan onto the stove and simmer the broth until reduced by half. Strain the broth, pressing on the vegetables to extract any extra juices. Discard the vegetables and reserve the broth for the risotto.
For this recipe, I decided to cook the morels separately; you can stir them into the risotto at end or use them to  garnish the risotto.
I mentioned before in another recipe that I use a timer set for 18 minutes when I make risotto. Here is where using a timer comes in handy. When there are five minutes remaining, add the peas. No guess work needed in figuring out when 5 minutes remain.
And as I often do with risotto, I left most of the cooking to my youngest daughter.

Risotto with English Peas and Morels                                                      
For two servings:
¼ pound morel mushrooms
1 teaspoon minced shallot
a few sprigs fresh thyme

2/3 cup Arborio rice
3 cups pea broth (or chicken or vegetable broth)
2 Tablespoons minced shallot
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup peas
2  Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil, for cooking
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Clean the morel mushrooms; trim off the bottom of the stems. Slice the morels in half or quarters, depending on their size. Place a small sauté pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, swirl in about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallots and sweat for 30 seconds. Add the morels and the thyme sprigs to the pan; season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook the morels for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Set aside.

2. Place the broth into a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Keep it at a low simmer as you cook the risotto.

3.  Place a second saucepan for the risotto over medium heat. When hot, swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallots and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes; adjust heat if necessary. Add the rice and stir to coat it in the olive oil.
Pour in the white wine and stir. (If using a timer, start it now). Stir until the wine is almost absorbed. Ladle about ¼ cup of the hot broth into the rice. Now begins the process of stirring the rice and adding the broth, about ¼ cup at a time. Adjust the heat to keep the risotto at a gentle simmer. Add broth when the liquid is almost absorbed into the rice; stir throughout at this point of the cooking.

4. Continue cooking the risotto by adding more broth as needed. After about 10 minutes cooking time, you won’t need to stir constantly but watch that there is enough broth in the pot and that  the risotto isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot.                                      

5. When 5 minutes cooking time remain, add the peas to the risotto. With the peas in the risotto, you may have to add a larger amount of stock to cover the rice and peas. Season the risotto with a little salt.

6. After about 18 minutes, taste the risotto. The rice should be firm but it shouldn’t have any undercooked crunch to it. If it does, continue cooking for a few more minutes.

7. When the risotto is al dente, remove risotto from heat. Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons butter. Add the Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper and stir. Cover the pot and set it aside for two minutes. After two minutes, check the risotto. Add a little extra broth if you like your risotto a little loose. Stir in the morels or hold them for garnish. Portion the risotto into two bowls. Garnish with the morels. Drizzle each serving with a little extra virgin olive oil and additional grated Parmesan.

               When I was studying music, I played lute in an Renaissance music ensemble, wearing red tights, no less.  There are photos which my daughters won't let me live down.          


  1. Ok, I don't think I will rest until I see the red tights photos. . .

  2. I am sure you were stylish in those red tights. I seem to take longer than 18 minutes to make risotto ... Will have to consult

  3. No worries, I'll supply the red tights picture...