Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pea Risotto and Share Our Strength

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Earlier this week, I attended Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation – Princeton, a benefit to held eliminate childhood hunger. Since 1992, Taste of the Nation has granted more than $743,000 to needy people in the Princeton area.  This year’s event raised funds for Mercer Street Friends, Food Bank of South Jersey, HomeFront Inc. and Isles, Inc.

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Ticket holders got a chance to sample food and drink from a host of local restaurants, caterers, and markets. One of the dishes was a pea risotto which I recreated at home. The recipe is at the end of this post.

Here is a sampling of the evening’s offerings:

Assortment of goodies from McCaffrey’s supermarket in Princeton; chefs from New Brunswick’s Due Mari making pea risotto; Enoterra in Princeton presented sweet potato puree with Scottish Salmon ceviche


From Emily’s cafe in Pennington – a trio of crostini – broccoli rape pesto, rosemary and white bean with candied bacon, and smoked salmon; and polenta cake with bacon balsamic chutney and risotto cake


Entertainment too!

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From Griggstown Quail Farm in Griggstown; smoked pheasant with mesclun salad and hard-boiled pheasant eggs; a basketful of pheasant and quail eggs

There were plenty more offerings of food to choose from – too numerous to display here. But we had plenty to drink too.  Beer, wine and the hard stuff – lots more to choose from than the pictures show.

I saw a lot of familiar faces including Dorothy Mullen, who helps kids in the Princeton School System create their own thriving gardens on the school grounds.

A special thanks to Christo from ChezWhat? for giving me the opportunity to attend the event.

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Now for the pea risotto step by step:

Start by cooking peas in chicken broth for a couple of minutes – the same broth you will use to cook the risotto.

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Drain the peas and put half of them, along with some chicken broth into the blender and puree.

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Saute some minced shallots in butter and olive oil:

April 2010 627 Add the rice and stir until coated – a minute or two is all you need.

April 2010 629 Add the white wine:

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April 2010 631 After about 15 minutes, add the peas and continue to cook for about five more minutes, stirring, stirring:

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Add the pea puree (I also added pea shoots, which you can totally skip. They wilted immediately and disappeared into the risotto)

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Test the rice for doneness. It should be fully cooked, but not mushy. Turn off the heat, and mix in 1 T. butter and the parmesan cheese.

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Add another sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a bit of chopped chives and enjoy:

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Pea Risotto

Makes enough for six people

Printer Friendly recipe

2 cups frozen or fresh peas

hot chicken broth, homemade is best but canned is fine – about 4 or 5 cups

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/4 cup chopped shallots

3 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

1/2 cup dry white wine

dash of white pepper

1 cup parmesan cheese

1 T. butter


Cook the peas in the chicken broth for about two minutes. Remove and set aside one cup of the peas. With the other one cup, put them in a blender with about 3/4 cup broth and puree. Keep the rest of the broth warm on the range.

Heat the olive oil and 1 T. butter in a heavy pan and add the shallots. Sauté until limp, do not brown. Add the rice and swirl it around a couple of minutes. Add the white pepper and wine and stir, then add a ladle at a time of chicken broth, stirring all the while. Continue to cook about 15 minutes, adding more broth each time to keep the rice from getting dry. Add the peas and cook another five minutes. Add the pea puree and stir. If you like your risotto a bit soupy, stop here. If you cook it too much longer, it can overcook and get too mushy. Turn off the heat and add one T. butter and the parmesan cheese. Serve with chopped chives and more parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.



  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful event and recipe with us Linda. It is such an important cause.

  2. This look amazing.

    Share Our Strength is a fantastic organization. One of my close friends used to work in the DC office and now works out of the New Orleans branch.

  3. I loved the crostini from Emily's Cafe. I am trying to recreate the fig jam on polenta rounds and broccoli rabe pesto today for a party this weekend!
    I am obsessed.

    Sorry we missed seeing eachother and Christo.

  4. I am so glad to have finally met you and Staceys mention of fig jam reminds me that I have an unopened jar of yours waiting for the right occasion - I look like I am waiting for bad news at the doctors office...funny photo!

  5. What a great event and the risotto that inspired your post looks amazing. Thanks for sharing the event with us. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  6. I make this too!! Actually i might make it tonight...
    I'm really curious as to what the broccoli rabe pesto tasted like. I can't imagine it. Would it be bitter i wonder?

  7. The pea risotto looks gorgeous, so perfect for spring! Sorry to have missed the event, it looked like a great time. Love that basket full of speckled quail eggs.

  8. This looks fantastic! I have been wanting to make pea risotto ever since I started watching Hell's Kitchen! I can't wait to try it!

  9. This looks like you had some fun! and for a great cause. The peas are coming love them peas!

  10. Wonderful party for a wonderful cause, Linda, Your pea risotto looks like the perfect spring dish!

  11. Linda this looks wonderful...I love the addition of the puree to the risotto as well as the has such a brilliant green color!
    I will be trying this very soon!
    Your risotto looks really delicious!

  12. I am glad that the event was so successful. Sounds like a great cause. It is nice to see that a lot of local businesses participated.

    Your pea risotto looks lovely!

  13. Risotto with peas tells me spring is truly here. I've never pureed the peas before - will try that for fun. I love the vibrancy of your risotto. How wonderful that Share Our Strength was such a success. The photos are glorious and the cause more-so.

  14. What a great event and the food looks fabulous. I was eyeing that polenta with fig Stacey was taliking about. I just love love your pea risotto, I need to make that!

  15. Questa risotto e' belisime! Grazzia Linda.


  16. ciao Linda! the recipe looks fantastic. i printed it and will make it as soon as the fresh peas appear in my green market in nyc. have you ever tried your risotto with carnaroli and vialone nano? you might find a new favorite by experimenting with these other varieties.
    grazie mille! beatrice

  17. What could announce the arrival of Spring any better than fresh pea risotto? I'm looking forward to try this beautiful dish.

    You had the opportunity to sample some wonderful dishes - all for a good cause.

  18. Linda, Thank you for your wonderful coverage of a fabulous evening - great photos and recipe choice! As a former Princeton Taste organizer, I know what it takes to put on an event of this magnitude, and they could always use more help in the planning that leads up to it. Maybe some potential volunteers and committee Chairs will raise their hands after seeing your great post. They can contact our Chair at

  19. Back in a second time - each time I see your risotto I like it more. That is one nice dish and I love that it's properly cooked. Mary