About two weeks ago I visited Roaring Fork Valley; the marvelous place that I visited in the middle of the winter as well. The spring is in the air there... the smell of moist fresh soil, budding willows and grazing horses and cows on the first blades of grass… and all this early spring mood topped with a magnificent view of Mt Sopris still covered in snow.
Today’s recipe is inspired by the spring mood; fresh green peas on a blanket of creamy rice like the fresh leaves digging their way up thru soft spring snow.
Risotto is an Italian rice dish of rich and creamy consistency; with still some bite to it. So don’t overcook your rice into porridge! Arborio is the rice of choice for this dish. The grains are short, fat with pearl like glitter and have high starch content. The starch releases in the cooking process into the liquid creating the desired creamy consistency. Stirring your risotto almost constantly and adding hot liquid little bit at a time helps to remove the starch into the liquid and create the creamy goodness. It is truly a comfort food!
Parmesan cheese is often added for extra creaminess but I substituted cheese with full fat coconut milk. The approximate cooking time is 20 minutes but as always go by your feel to create the perfect consistency. You can even remove the dish from the heat little earlier, cover it and leave to finish in its own heat; adjust the consistency by adding more or less of the coconut milk.
A few words on coconut milk… I am talking about full fat coconut milk sold in cans; not cartons. See what kind is available to you. I personally like Whole Foods 365 Brand or Thai Kitchen. If the can is kept in cooler temperature the fat will separate from the liquid. Blend the fat into the liquid. Experiment with reserving some of the coconut fat and mixing it to the risotto at the end for extra creaminess. Just be aware that the separation does not always happen.
3 Tbs ghee, divided
1 shallot, finely diced
3 – 4 celery stalks, diced
1 rosemary twig, minced
1 ½ c – 1 ¾ c Arborio rice
½ c white wine
1 c coconut milk
2 ½ c water or as needed
1 c peas
few pinches of dried parsley
In a medium size saucepan saute shallots and celery in 1 Tbs ghee for 3-5 minutes. Add rosemary and rice. Deglaze with wine, when wine is absorbed add liquid about ½ c at a time. Stir frequently and don't let the rice dry out. Continue cooking until the rice is creamy but still al dente.
When the risotto is almost done mix in peas, remaining ghee and parsley. Cover and allow to rest for a few minutes.
Good bye winter, hello spring!