Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When Life Gives You Peas

It's sugar snap time. The vines have grown over ten feet tall, and although the bottoms are suffering from smidgens of powdery mildew, they're pumping out peas at Henry Ford assembly-line pace. Sugar snap peas make me happy. They're delicious all sorts of ways: raw, lightly steamed, and tossed with other veggies in stir fries, but the way I love them best is just barely sauteed with olive oil and salt over very high heat until they're bright green with an occasional brown spot and are still sprightly and crunchy. Since it's sugar snap time, it's time I start designing meals around them. Peas are the star, a big pile of them nearly filling the plate, and whatever sits next to them on the plate needs to complement their green sweetness.

And this, this simple little risotto, is the perfect accompaniment, one that had ECG and me audibly yumming throughout dinner tonight. It's only a few ingredients, but each is essential, especially the fresh thyme. Do not leave out the thyme, as it will make every other ingredient even better.

Mixed Mushroom Risotto
Adapted from and Epicurious recipe I found here.

You will need:
3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 pound assorted mushrooms (cremini, oyster, shitake, etc) roughly chopped into pieces of various sizes
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry vermouth
water as needed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

To make the risotto:
Heat the broth in a saucepan on the stove until it simmers.

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a very large pan over medium-high heat. Dump the onions into the hot fat and stir around a bit to completely coat the onion chunks. Add the mushrooms and a shake of salt to help draw out the water. Cook on medium-high to high heat until the mushrooms have golden edges and most of the juices are drawn out of the mushtrooms. This takes me about 10 minutes. Stir in the rice so it is coated with the scant remaining juices and oil in the pan.

Pour in the vermouth and stir to mix; stir every thirty seconds or a minute or so until the vermouth is absorbed by the rice. Add the broth about 3/4 cup a time, stirring frequently, until each addition of broth is absorbed by the rice and mushroom mixture. Once you've added all of the broth, the mixture should be very creamy and the rice should be tender, but not mushy. If the rice is not yet tender, add a splash of water at a time, stirring in and cooking down until absorbed. This should take about 20 minutes. Once the rice is just tender, remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the Parmesan and the thyme. Serve with extra grated Parmesan next to a huge pile of peas.

Serves two pea-loving folks amply.


Anonymous said...

I meant to be growing peas this year, but missed it. When should I have planted sugar snaps?

NerdMom said...

It all sounds so yummy! I am so jealous of your garden;). Maybe next year... If you are driving to Fresno and want to unload some of those peas;)....

The Allotment Blogger said...

I'm totally envious - in Brighton, England, in March, we're still harvesting the last of our winter brassicas and can only dream of spring crops!

Christina said...

Hi NikkiP: I plant peas in October for spring harvest. They DO NOT like heat, and fade quickly as soon as it gets warm. They're an easy crop, but need a mighty trellis--if you've got more questions about them, send them my way! Happy day!

NerdMom: I haven been to Fresno since I was 15 and I'm not sure when I'll be back, but I'll keep that in mind. In the meantime, do try your hand at growing something, even if just a small patch of herbs or beets, easy stuff.

The Allotment Blogger: But the shame is that it is not April yet, and today, I ate one of my last crops of peas. The heat does them in quickly, so they're a short-lived but wonderfully delicious crop--I harvest for the month of March, and that's about it. I imagine the harvest window lasts longer for you.

Unknown said...

I am doing raised bed veggie gardening this year..and composting. Love your blog..and your pictures are awe-inspiring.