Jan 08, 2024, Updated Jan 22, 2024
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Fresh, sweet spring peas with creamy, luxurious risotto and hearty mushrooms – this simple vegetarian dinner is healthy and flavorful!
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English Pea and Snap Pea Risotto
Pea Risotto with fresh snap and English peas is a vibrant and elegant dish that perfectly embodies the freshness and brightness of spring. This dish is not only visually appealing with its varying shades of green, but it’s also a flavor-packed treat for the palate. At its core, it’s a traditional Italian risotto, enriched with the sweet and tender flavors of both snap and English peas, which bring a delightful textural contrast and a burst of freshness.
The process of making this risotto is a labor of love and attention. It starts with arborio rice, a staple in risotto cooking, known for its creamy texture and ability to absorb flavors beautifully. As the rice slowly cooks, it’s gradually infused with a rich, homemade or high-quality store-bought broth, which can be vegetable or chicken-based. This step-by-step addition of liquid is crucial to achieving the creamy consistency characteristic of a perfect risotto.
What sets this dish apart is the addition of fresh peas. English peas, sweet and soft, are shelled and added to the risotto, imparting a gentle sweetness and a tender bite. Snap peas, often sliced or left whole, provide a delightful crunch and a slightly more robust pea flavor. This combination of textures – the creaminess of the rice, the softness of the English peas, and the crispness of the snap peas – creates an engaging and enjoyable eating experience.
How to Make Pea Risotto
To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:
- Arborio Rice (1 1/2 cups): Arborio rice is a starchy short-grain rice that is essential for making creamy risotto. It absorbs the liquid while releasing starch, creating the creamy texture that is characteristic of risotto.
- Vegetable or Chicken Broth (4 cups): The broth is the cooking liquid for the risotto. It infuses the rice with flavor and moisture, helping it cook to a creamy consistency.
- Fresh English Peas (1 cup, shelled): English peas provide a vibrant green color and a sweet, slightly nutty flavor to the risotto. They add freshness and a burst of flavor in every bite.
- Fresh Snap Peas (1/2 cup, chopped): Snap peas add a crunchy texture and a mild, sweet taste to the risotto. They complement the creamy rice and the softness of the English peas.
- Small Onion (finely chopped): The onion serves as the flavor base for the risotto, bringing a mild, savory sweetness when sautéed.
- Garlic (2 cloves, minced): Garlic adds a fragrant and slightly pungent flavor that enhances the overall taste of the dish.
- Dry White Wine (optional, 1/2 cup): White wine adds acidity and complexity to the risotto. It helps deglaze the pan and contributes to the overall flavor profile. You can omit it or use chicken broth as an alternative.
- Olive Oil (2 tablespoons): Olive oil is used for sautéing the onions and garlic. It adds a subtle fruity note and helps coat the rice evenly.
- Unsalted Butter (2 tablespoons): Butter enriches the risotto, providing creaminess and a rich, buttery flavor.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup): Parmesan cheese adds a salty, nutty, and savory dimension to the risotto. It also enhances the creaminess and texture.
- Salt and Black Pepper: These seasonings are essential for balancing the flavors and enhancing the taste of all the ingredients.
- Fresh Mint Leaves (for garnish, optional): Fresh mint leaves add a refreshing and aromatic element to the dish. They provide a bright contrast to the creamy risotto.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use this process:
Prepare the Broth: In a saucepan, heat the vegetable or chicken broth over low heat. Keep it warm throughout the cooking process.
Sauté Onions and Garlic: In a large, heavy-bottomed pan or skillet, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Toast the Rice: Add the Arborio rice to the pan and stir to coat the rice with the oil and butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the rice becomes slightly translucent around the edges.
Deglaze with Wine (Optional): Pour in the white wine and stir until it’s mostly absorbed by the rice. If you prefer not to use wine, you can skip this step and proceed directly to the next.
Begin Adding Broth: Start adding the warm broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. Allow each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding more. This gradual process will ensure the rice becomes creamy.
Add Fresh Peas: After about 15 minutes of cooking, add the fresh English peas and continue stirring.
Add Snap Peas: A few minutes later, add the chopped snap peas to the risotto. Stir them into the rice.
Continue Cooking: Keep adding broth and stirring until the rice is al dente and has a creamy consistency. This usually takes about 18-20 minutes.
Finish with Butter and Cheese: Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the grated Parmesan cheese. Mix until the butter and cheese are melted and fully incorporated into the risotto. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Garnish and Serve: Optionally, garnish the risotto with fresh mint leaves for a burst of color and flavor. Serve hot and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks for Perfect Pea Risotto
Use Arborio Rice: Arborio rice is the best choice for risotto due to its high starch content, which creates that creamy texture. Other short-grain rice varieties like Carnaroli or Vialone Nano are also suitable.
Warm Broth: Keep your vegetable or chicken broth warm in a separate saucepan. Cold broth can disrupt the cooking process and result in unevenly cooked rice.
Sauté the Onion and Garlic: Take your time to sauté the finely chopped onion and minced garlic until they are soft and translucent. This step builds a flavorful base for the risotto.
Toast the Rice: After adding the rice, toast it in the sautéed onion and garlic mixture for a couple of minutes. This enhances the rice’s nutty flavor and ensures that it absorbs the liquid evenly.
Deglaze with Wine (optional): If using white wine, add it after toasting the rice. Allow it to cook down until almost evaporated before adding the broth. The wine adds complexity to the flavor.
Add Broth Gradually: Add the warm broth one ladleful at a time, stirring continuously. Allow the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. This gradual process helps the rice release starch and become creamy.
Stir Constantly: Risotto demands constant stirring to encourage the release of starch from the rice and ensure even cooking. A wooden spoon is ideal for this purpose.
Use Fresh Peas: Whenever possible, use fresh English peas and snap peas. They add a burst of vibrant flavor and texture. If using frozen peas, add them toward the end of cooking to retain their color and freshness.
Timing is Key: Risotto should be cooked until al dente, with a slight bite to it. Overcooking can result in mushy rice.
Finish with Butter and Cheese: Once the rice is cooked to perfection, remove it from heat and stir in the remaining butter and grated Parmesan cheese. This final step enhances the creaminess and flavor.
Season Thoughtfully: Taste the risotto before serving and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper as needed. Remember that Parmesan cheese adds saltiness, so adjust accordingly.
Garnish with Fresh Mint: If you choose to garnish with fresh mint leaves, add them just before serving for a burst of freshness and aroma.
Yes, you can use frozen peas if fresh peas are not available. Add them toward the end of cooking to ensure they don’t overcook and lose their vibrant color.
Arborio rice is the most commonly used rice for risotto due to its high starch content. However, you can also use other short-grain rice varieties like Carnaroli or Vialone Nano for similar results.
Wine is optional but often added to risotto for its flavor-enhancing properties. It adds complexity and acidity to the dish. If you prefer not to use wine, you can substitute it with extra broth.
Risotto is ready when the rice is tender with a slight bite (al dente) and has a creamy consistency. It should not be mushy. Taste the rice to gauge its doneness.
Risotto is best enjoyed immediately when it’s freshly cooked because it tends to thicken upon standing. If you need to reheat it, add a splash of warm broth or water and gently reheat it on the stovetop while stirring to regain its creaminess.
Absolutely! Risotto is versatile, and you can add ingredients like sautéed mushrooms, diced cooked chicken, shrimp, or other vegetables to create different variations.
Stirring risotto constantly helps release the rice’s starch, creating the creamy texture associated with the dish. It also ensures even cooking and prevents sticking to the pan.
Yes, you can make a dairy-free risotto by using olive oil instead of butter and skipping the cheese. The risotto will still be flavorful and creamy.
Leftover pea risotto can be turned into arancini (rice balls), stuffed peppers, or used as a filling for stuffed mushrooms. It can also be reheated and enjoyed as-is.
What to Serve With Pea Risotto
Green Salad: A simple green salad with fresh lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a light vinaigrette dressing adds a refreshing contrast to the creamy risotto.
Garlic Bread: Crusty garlic bread or a baguette is perfect for mopping up the creamy sauce from the risotto. You can also make garlic butter rolls for a twist.
Roasted Vegetables: Roasted or grilled vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, or bell peppers complement the risotto and add a satisfying texture.
Steamed Vegetables: Steamed broccoli, carrots, or green beans provide a nutritious and colorful side. Season them with a touch of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Herb-Roasted Potatoes: Roasted or baked potatoes seasoned with herbs and spices add a starchy component to your meal.
Bruschetta: A classic bruschetta with diced tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and balsamic glaze on toasted bread slices is a delightful appetizer or side dish.
Caprese Salad: A Caprese salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction offers a burst of flavors that complement the risotto.
Stir-Fried Vegetables: Quickly stir-fry a mix of colorful bell peppers, snap peas, and baby corn in a teriyaki or soy sauce for an Asian-inspired side.
Grilled Shrimp or Chicken: Grilled shrimp or chicken seasoned with herbs and spices makes a protein-rich addition to your meal.
Fruit Salad: A fruit salad with a medley of fresh fruits like pineapple, strawberries, and grapes brings a sweet and juicy element to your dinner.
Mixed Grains: A side of mixed grains like wild rice, brown rice, or quinoa complements the risotto and adds variety to your meal.
Coleslaw: Creamy coleslaw with cabbage, carrots, and a tangy dressing provides a refreshing and crunchy side option.
Pea Risotto Recipe
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- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup fresh English peas, shelled
- 1/2 cup fresh snap peas, chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Fresh mint leaves, for garnish (optional)
- Prepare the Broth: In a saucepan, heat the vegetable or chicken broth over low heat. Keep it warm throughout the cooking process.
- Sauté Onions and Garlic: In a large, heavy-bottomed pan or skillet, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Toast the Rice: Add the Arborio rice to the pan and stir to coat the rice with the oil and butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the rice becomes slightly translucent around the edges.
- Deglaze with Wine (Optional): Pour in the white wine and stir until it's mostly absorbed by the rice. If you prefer not to use wine, you can skip this step and proceed directly to the next.
- Begin Adding Broth: Start adding the warm broth one ladle at a time, stirring frequently. Allow each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding more. This gradual process will ensure the rice becomes creamy.
- Add Fresh Peas: After about 15 minutes of cooking, add the fresh English peas and continue stirring.
- Add Snap Peas: A few minutes later, add the chopped snap peas to the risotto. Stir them into the rice.
- Continue Cooking: Keep adding broth and stirring until the rice is al dente and has a creamy consistency. This usually takes about 18-20 minutes.
- Finish with Butter and Cheese: Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the grated Parmesan cheese. Mix until the butter and cheese are melted and fully incorporated into the risotto. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Garnish and Serve: Optionally, garnish the risotto with fresh mint leaves for a burst of color and flavor. Serve hot and enjoy!
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Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 226Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 14mgSodium 335mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 6gSugar 5gProtein 7g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.