Spring peas are known by a variety of names such as sweet peas, English peas, petit pois and garden peas.
Regardless of what you call them, one thing is for sure — we should eat fresh peas in their seasonal prime, which is early to mid-spring.
This season fleets quickly! Almost as quickly as those small sweet spheres of garden goodness appear, they disappear. So, eat your peas while they’re abundant, fresh and at their perfect peak of sweetness.
Below, I share a risotto recipe that incorporates springtime peas. Buying peas as fresh as possible and still in their pods is of vital importance to this dish. Lightly wrap the pods in a dampened paper towel and place in your refrigerator until ready to make the risotto.
Do not shuck the peas more than an hour before you plan to make this dish. The pod is where the peas are preserved perfectly and this helps them to maintain their sweetness and texture.
Spring Pea Risotto (serves 4)
- 1 cup – Risotto Rice
- 4 tablespoons – Butter ( unsalted)
- 1/4 cup – Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoons – Spring Garlic ( chopped, medium dice )
- 4 tablespoons – Spring Onion ( chopped, medium dice )
- 3/4 cup – Champagne
- 4-7 cups – Vegetable stock ( hot)
- 1 cup – Fresh Spring peas
- 2 sprigs – Fresh mint
- 1/2 cup – Spring Pea puree ( see below )
- 4 tablespoons – Pea Shoots ( roughly chopped)
- 3 oz. – Parmigiano Reggiano (freshly grated)
- Salt and fresh White Pepper to taste
Pea puree – Blanch the spring peas in boiling, salted water. Puree in a blender with a little of the blanching liquid to obtain a smooth consistency. This can be done hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. ( The consistency should be similar to that of a creamy oatmeal. )
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, add two tablespoons of butter and olive oil and turn flame to medium. (Do not let the butter brown.)
- Add the onion and garlic. Cook until translucent.
- Add the risotto and stir to coat with the oil.
- Once the risotto is hot to the touch, add the champagne and stir vigorously, with a wooden spoon until all liquid is absorbed.
- Add the hot stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly and adding additional ladles of stock only when the previous ones have first been fully absorbed by the rice.
- The rice should be cooked to an al dente (cooked but with a bite to it) stage.
- Add the Spring peas and mint sprigs. Stir well.
- Remove from heat and add the remaining butter, pea puree, cheese and pea shoots, stirring well.
Tip: Let the risotto cool 2-3 minutes at this point prior to serving.