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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Risotto with Peas, Mint, Lemon and Parmesan

Gotta love the summer! Especially as the hard work of the spring pays off in the garden. I am a little late posting this... probably because I was too busy gardening, picking and eating my early spring veg, but this recipe is good all year round, garden or no garden!  It is however made just that much better with some amazing summer fresh peas and garden fresh mint!

This is actually my first year having a full blown garden. Previous to this, I lived in places with balconies, so my gardening was restricted to containers. You can do a lot in containers, but you have to make serious choices because space is prime.

This year we are in our new house with a yard, and in the spring, we built 5 beautiful raised cedar beds. Perfect for experimenting with the veg I love the most! So, I went crazy and planted everything I every wanted in my garden... potatoes, tomatoes, peas, beans, herbs, beets, carrots, squash, garlic, radishes... the list goes on and on. Perhaps it's actually too long of a list as some of my beds have become a tad overcrowded as the seeds have sprouted and the plans have grown! I suppose I wasn't sure of my success rates with seeds so I went a little nuts. But now I know for next year what works and what doesn't, and how many seeds I actually need to plant!

Anyhow, one of the successful spring harvests involved sugar snap peas and sugar pod peas (both with edible pods). They were sweet and delicious that I would just walk through the garden and eat them off the plant! But, some did make it into my kitchen and I managed to whip up some pretty good meals also.

The one I am sharing with you today is a nice summery risotto. You will notice that the peas are stirred in almost at the last minute. You want them to still be fresh and crisp in both texture and taste. The peas are accented with one of their favorite pairing herbs-- mint (also from the garden).

If you don't have fresh peas, don't worry. This dish can be made with frozen peas and it tastes amazing as well. But I have to say, there is something extremely rewarding about growing your veg and then eating it!

Summer Risotto with Peas, Mint, Lemon and Parmesan
Serves 2 as main, 4 as starter or side dish

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
4 cups Vegetable Broth (plus another 1/4 cup or so if necessary)
1 1/2 cups of Peas*
3/4 cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 cup Fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
Salt and Pepper

*For the peas, if you are fortunate to have any peas from the garden, use them. If you have peas with edible pods like snap or snow peas, just cut them up. Otherwise, you can use frozen peas.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Sautee the garlic and onion for a few minutes until they just start to soften. Add the rice and cook for a few minutes. Then, add a half cup of broth. Stir constantly until the broth is absorbed. Then add another half cup of broth, stir until absorbed and continue in this fashion until all the broth has been absorbed by the rice and the rice is cooked. Stir in the peas, parmesan, lemon juice, zest and mint.  The risotto should be nice and creamy, but if it seems dry, add the extra 1/4 cup of broth. Cook and stir for another few minutes, until the peas are just cooked (or warmed through if you are using frozen peas). Season to taste with salt and pepper

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