When I saw this recipe for sweet pea risotto gratin posted in Rachael Ray's weekly menu planner (in my sidebar), I knew I had to make it. I didn't really expect it to be this week, but with the lack of substantial leftovers on Monday, I had the perfect opportunity to make it last night. I've been wanting to make some risotto for awhile now and this one was perfect because I had all of the ingredients in my pantry or freezer. I picked up some organic arborio rice in the bulk bins at Whole Foods Market a couple of months ago and it has just been sitting in my pantry ever since. Arborio rice isn't a whole grain, but its still a type of grain that I've never tried. So I was anxious to see how this would taste. It was AWESOME! Kevin and I both really loved it. Another keeper! I expected some complaints from Kevin, having had two meatless meals in a row, but he only had good things to say about this meal. Score! I only made half a recipe, as the original is for 4-6 servings, but Kevin was wishing I'd have made the whole recipe. This dish did take a little more active time that I usually like on a weeknight, but it was still a quick meal - about a half-hour. Just requires a lot of stirring, so you can't go far from the stovetop. The peas, chicken broth, butter, onion, and rice were organic.
Sweet Pea Risotto Gratin
One 10-ounce package frozen baby peas, thawed
6 cups chicken broth
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound arborio rice (this equals about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
Puree half of the peas in a food processor and set aside with the whole peas.
In a saucepan, heat the chicken broth and keep warm. Grease a 2-quart casserole and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir well to coat the grains with butter. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth to the rice, lower the heat slightly and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth in 1/2 cup increments, letting the rice absorb the liquid (about 3 minutes) after each addition, and stirring almost constantly, until the rice is cooked, 20 to 25 minutes. The finished rice will be creamy but still firm to the bite.
A few minutes before the risotto is done, stir in the pureed and whole peas. Turn on the broiler.
Remove the cooked rice from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 3/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese and the bread crumbs together. Transfer the risotto to the prepared casserole dish and top with the bread crumb mixture. Place the dish under the broiler about 6 inches from the heat source and broil for about 2 minutes, or until the top is golden. Serve immediately.