Fresh Pea Risotto with Squash Blossoms

This risotto, in contrast to the black risotto, is flavored with elements that should not be added until the end of the cooking of the rice, keeping the flavors fresh and their colors bright. This risotto is finished with peas and a butter mixed with fresh pea puree. Asparagus, fava beans, green beans (haricots verts), and fresh herbs like basil are examples of other ingredients and flavors that need to be added only at the last minute.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled fresh peas
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup mascarpone, sour cream, or double cream
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Freshly grated lemon zest
  • 8 squash blossoms, stemmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, peeled, finely chopped
  • cups Carnaroli or Vialone rice (or Arborio)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt

Method

Cook the peas in 4 quarts of boiling salted water for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain in a sieve, and put on a cold cookie sheet in the freezer until they are cool (10 minutes).

Put ½ cup of the cooked peas in a food processor with the butter, and puree. Take the puree out and put it through a sieve, discarding the debris and saving the pea butter.

Mix the mascarpone, pepper, and lemon zest and stuff into the blossoms.

Put the olive oil and shallots in a 4-quart saucepan, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let the shallots brown!

Add the rice, and stir the rice with the shallots for another 5 minutes or until the grains of rice are coated and slightly translucent.

Turn up the heat, add the wine, and cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, and start adding the stock, ½ cup at a time.

As soon as the stock is absorbed, add another ½ cup, and keep on cooking like this, with the stock and rice simmering gently, and stirring constantly, until the rice is cooked, no less than 20 minutes, and probably no more than 30.

Preheat the boiler to high.

After the last ½ cup of liquid is added to the risotto and it starts to be absorbed, add the cooked peas. Finish the risotto with the pea butter, seasoning, and last few tablespoons of hot vegetable stock (or boiling water if you have run out of stock).

Put the blossoms under the broiler for 1 minute, and then put 2 on top of each serving of risotto.

Variations

If you can find pea tendrils (the actual end of the plant’s new branches and not the horrible pea shoots), soften them in butter and a little water for 2 minutes, and fold them into the risotto with the peas. I have also stuffed the blossoms with foie gras mousse, and the foie gras melting over the risotto is spectacular.

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