Where possible, I like to make use of more than one part of the plants I grow, and pea shoots are a particular favourite of mine for their beauty and excellent flavour. This pea shoot risotto recipe comes from my great friend Lee Hallman who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, where she has a wonderful container garden. The risotto is a real taste of early summer, and a great way to show off tender young vegetables at their best. You could also use young broad beans and broad bean tops in addition to, or instead of, the peas. This is delicious with a lightly seasoned baby-leaf salad dressed simply with olive oil.
PREP TIME 15 minutes
COOK TIME 30 minutes
1 tbsp vegetable oil
small piece of butter
5 spring onions, finely chopped
50g pea shoots
300g risotto rice
1.2 litres warm vegetable stock
100g sugar snap peas, halved on the diagonal if large
30g grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1 tbsp crème fraîche
salt and pepper
1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan over a medium heat, add the spring onions and cook for about 2 minutes until translucent.
2. Meanwhile, finely chop the pea shoots, reserving a few and leaving them whole for a garnish, if desired.
3. Add the risotto rice to the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes, stirring all the time, without colouring. Add a ladleful of stock, stir through and continue cooking at a gentle bubble until the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat the process, gradually adding the stock – a ladleful at a time – until about two-thirds of the stock has been used. This will take about 20 minutes.
4. At this point, add the sugar snap peas, then continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, until it is all used up – this will take about 5 minutes more. The rice should be cooked through but still retain a slight bite.
5. Stir in the parmesan, crème fraîche and chopped pea shoots and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve the pea shoot risotto garnished with the reserved pea shoots, if using, and the extra parmesan to sprinkle over.
These are a wonderful addition to the container garden. If you pick the pods regularly the plant will keep producing more, giving you a good yield from a relatively small space. The shoots are delicious, too, added to salads, pasta or risotto. In the garden we have Hurst Green Shaft peas but they do well in a pot, too. I also grow the Sugar Ann variety, which, as the name suggests, is a very sweet pea.
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