Main Course, Sides

Risotto with Pesto & Peas

3 Comments 13 July 2012

The makers of this recipe should have called it Cheese Risotto instead. Or, Would You Like Some Risotto With Your Cheese. Or, OMG Cheese Glorious Cheese! And A Few Grains of Rice and Some Peas. Because there is a lot of cheese in this mother!

Now, I know you’re wondering, “What’s wrong with that?” And honestly, nothing if you like the amount of cheese in the original. We just didn’t really think about the amount called for, and after we added it in it looked like we had painstakingly stirred not a fine a risotto dish for thirty minutes, but a mountain of blob-ish, coming-after-you sentient cheese.

Risotto With Pesto and Peas 11

Perhaps the most odd thing about this recipe, though, is that it’s a risotto without chicken stock. You make one using simply water and sliced green onions, also known as scallions. Huh – OK then! We shall do as thou commands, Recipe.

But shhh, don’t tell the Recipe, I shall likely just use chicken stock next time! And cook the onions and add them in later.

Risotto With Pesto and Peas 10

Besides pesto as one of the feature ingredients, there’s diced ham, some peas and mozzarella cheese. There’s also, not pictured, Parmesan cheese. Are you beginning to see what we mean about the cheese?

Risotto With Pesto and Peas 9

This is how a risotto starts off, like a hopelessly flooded field of rice. From here starts your Journey of Stirring. Your wrist-bending thirty minutes of risotto servitude. Is risotto worth it? You. Bet!

I was surprised to see we had no more pictures of the seemingly endless process of adding stock and stirring yet more, or of adding any of the other ingredients, but I was not feeling well that day and plain forgot to take more pictures. Oh well, you’ll just have to trust that this risotto really happened.

Risotto With Pesto and Peas 1

See? It really happened! It did it did it did. I wish you could have seen the look on my face when I came back in the kitchen, just after sis blogging partner had stirred in all the cheese. I think my eyes crossed because all. you could see. was cheese! Yeah, it was a little much for us. So we have altered the recipe a bit to lighten up on it. But as is, it’s very creamy. And yummy. So maybe you might want to leave it all in? It’s up to you. If you want it all, follow the link to the original recipe. There’s enough cheese in the recipe below, though.

The pesto is a nice addition, but it’s pretty strong, too. Also an ingredient you could feel free to cut back on a little bit. It’s not a perfect risotto, but it’s a darn good start. The flavors are wonderful and they are flexible enough to cater to your tastes.

Risotto with Pesto and Peas

adapted from Food Network Magazine, April 2012

Prep Time: 20 minutes    Cook Time: about 30 minutes   Level: Easy   Serves: 4

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 leeks (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced, or use 4-5 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 3/4 cup diced ham
  • 1/2 cup pesto (store-bought is fine)
  • 1/2 cup small diced fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Make the broth: Bring 6 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Adjust the heat to keep the broth at a gentle simmer.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, about 1 more minute.

Add 2 cups of the hot leek broth to the rice; cook, stirring occasionally, until almost absorbed, about 6 minutes (adjust the heat to keep the risotto at a simmer). Add 1 more cup broth and cook, stirring, until almost absorbed, about 5 more minutes. Add the leeks, peas and 1 more cup broth and cook, stirring, until almost absorbed, about 5 more minutes. Taste the rice: If it is not fully cooked, add a little more broth and continue to cook, stirring, until al dente.

Stir in the ham and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Remove from the heat; stir in 2/3 cup pesto, the mozzarella and parmesan. Season with salt. Divide among bowls and top with the remaining pesto.


Don’t worry if you can’t get all the sliced green onions out of the broth water. It’s like herding cats anyway. Just do your best and don’t worry if some get in the risotto while you’re adding broth and stirring. It’s all going back to the same pot anyway.

The original recipe called for one cup of mozzarella, which was way over the top – unless cheese is just your particular thing. I cut it back in the recipe above because it along with the parmesan still gives you a cup of cheese total – plenty! Most risottos we’ve made call for about half that.

If you want to kick it up, you could use a light, reduced-sodium chicken broth instead of the scallion broth. You could also add some diced cooked prosciutto in place of the ham. The prosciutto would have a little more flavor.

I also reduced the amount of pesto, which was originally 3/4 of a cup. This is pretty strange for us, reducing ingredients. We’re usually adding more!

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- who has written 347 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and Day Job Do-er, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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3 Comments so far

  1. yumgoggle says:

    I must say this is the yummiest risotto recipe I have ever seen…Can’t wait to taste it. I love cheesy recipes and I will never let this recipe pass without my family indulging in its flavorful haven…
    Myfudo here…You might be wondering why we bear a new name. MyFudo is getting a new look, we are moving to a new domain, (previously this has been a project we have been working on for almost a year now. We just launched our new gallery submission site, and we are just thrilled. Unique and interesting bloggers like you will make the Yumgoggle gallery more fun and exciting. Allow us to showcase all your great work and share it with all of our visitors. We’d be proud to have your work as part of our growing collection to continue to have a larger reach and further inspire all fellow food lovers & food photographers out there! Please sign up and check us out (it’s free)
    We look forward to seeing your wonderful pictures, as always.

    p.s. We are hosting a Kitchen Aid Mixer Giveaway to celebrate our new Yumgoggle site, coming soon in our launch post, we hope you’ll participate =)

  2. Ann Mah says:

    Holy cats, that’s a LOT of cheese in one little risotto. But I bet it was delicious. And cheese is an important source of calcium, RIGHT? I love all these ingredients and can’t wait to try this combination.

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