What Is Pea Risotto?

Autumn St. John
Autumn St. John
Green peas.
Green peas.

Pea risotto is a rich, creamy rice dish containing shelled garden peas along with other ingredients. Additional ingredients vary from recipe to recipe but usually include other vegetables, meat and poultry. Ingredients common to many pea risotto recipes are broth, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. The peas are added to the risotto toward the end of the cooking time to avoid over-cooking them. Either whole peas or pea puree can be used.

Different types of rice, including risotto rice.
Different types of rice, including risotto rice.

A traditional Italian dish, risotto normally will have a soup-like consistency. The rice usually used to make a risotto is a starchy, short-grain variety such as Arborio or Padano. In Italy, it is the norm to serve risotto as a first course, but in other countries, this rice dish is also a popular main course. Despite risotto’s creamy texture, the rice grains usually are firm to bite into, because they tend to be cooked al dente, which means that the grains are not cooked long enough to become soft.

Grated Parmesan cheese is often used to top risotto.
Grated Parmesan cheese is often used to top risotto.

Basic risottos can have a variety of foods added to them, with white fish, tomatoes and chicken being popular choices. Alcohol such as dry white wine is also a regular risotto ingredient. When making a pea risotto, it is common for a cook to combine the peas with ingredients such as mint, ham and scallops. To create a vegetable risotto, peas are often teamed with mushrooms, asparagus and artichokes. Fresh, frozen or canned peas can be used in a risotto.

It normally takes 45-105 minutes to cook a pea risotto. The peas usually are stirred into the risotto toward the end of the cooking process, followed only by Parmesan and seasoning. Although risotto is traditionally cooked on the stove, peas cook so quickly that pea risotto can also be made in the microwave. Some microwave recipes require the peas to be blended with the broth to create a puree.

Pea risotto is often mistaken for risi e bisi, which translates as "rice and peas." Apart from the presence of rice and peas, other commonalities between this dish and pea risotto are their Italian roots and their soupy appearance and consistency. Given these shared features, it is understandable that people commonly confuse the two rice dishes. Risi e bisi usually contains a salt-cured bacon called pancetta, which also appears in many risotto recipes. The term "risotto" is sometimes also used to refer to dishes cooked in a similar way to authentic risotto but using an alternative grain such as barley.

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    • Green peas.
      By: sevenk
      Green peas.
    • Different types of rice, including risotto rice.
      By: Elena Schweitzer
      Different types of rice, including risotto rice.
    • Grated Parmesan cheese is often used to top risotto.
      By: Bert Folsom
      Grated Parmesan cheese is often used to top risotto.