Recipe: Jonathan Waxman’s Risotto with Sweet Peas

Risotto with peasDon’t fear the risotto. Indulge your guests with this savory spring dish from celebrated chef Jonathan Waxman, author of Italian, My Way: More Than 150 Simple and Inspired Recipes That Breathe New Life into Italian Classics.

This recipe is easily adapted to any other ingredient, so feel free to improvise, but as they say in Italy, it’s all about the rice.

2 c. shelled fresh peas
4 qts. cold water, plus more as needed to cook the peas
2 tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion (white or yellow), peeled and finely minced
Sea salt to taste
2 c. Carnaroli rice
2 c. good white wine (unoaked)
4 c. hot water
1 c. pea shoots
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves, chopped

1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the peas for 1 minute, drain and rinse with cold water to halt the cooking.

2. Bring the 4 quarts of cold water to a simmer in an 8-quart stock pot. In a heavy casserole add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bring the heat to medium. Add the onion and sweat for 8 minutes; season with sea salt only. Add the rice and continue to stir for 5 minutes, then add the wine.

3. Cook the rice until the wine has reduced to 1/2 cup, then slowly add the hot water, 1/2 cup at a time. You want the risotto to remain loose, but not too soupy.

4. Continue to add more water until the rice is done (al dente). Add the peas, the pea shoots, butter and three-quarters of the Parmesan. Taste for seasoning and add the black pepper. To finish, drizzle with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the chopped tarragon.

Serves 6

Jonathan Waxman first stepped into the culinary scene in 1970 when he retired from his career as a professional trombonist to enroll in the La Varenne cooking school in Paris. After working at the prestigious Chez Panisse alongside Alice Waters, he brought New American cuisine to New York City by opening the restaurants Jams and Washington Park. Today, he is the chef-owner of the Big Apple’s Barbuto, an Italian brasserie.

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