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.
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.
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?
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.
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!