After Hurricane Irene left us without power for four days, I tossed everything in my two refrigerators and freezers into large garbage bags and drove it to the town dump. Everything included homemade chicken stock, Chinese dumplings, stinky cheese, and the large batch of basil pesto I'd made and frozen the week before the storm. Fortunately, even late in the season, my basil still puts out fragrant leaves, and I can harvest until the first frost turns the plants brown. So I eked out another small batch of pesto a few days ago, and paired it with peas in this risotto. The pine nuts gave a nice crunchy contrast to the creamy rice -- a bit unexpected in risotto, but delightful -- and the aroma of basil and garlic perfumed everything in a gentle way. This is a main course rice bowl, easy for everyday or impressive for a dinner party, paired with a bright salad, some crusty bread, and a crisp white wine.
Risotto with pesto, peas and pine nuts
4 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tsp olive oil
3 tsp butter, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 Tbsp pesto (I use Genovese basil pesto), homemade or store-bought
1/2 cup fresh peas, blanched for 1 minute in boiling water, drained
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
Fresh black pepper, to taste
Heat the chicken broth in a microwave or on the stovetop; set aside but keep the broth hot.
Toast the pine nuts over low heat in a dry nonstick frying pan. When the nuts are just starting to brown, remove the pan from heat and set aside.
In a Dutch oven or sauce pan that's both wide and deep (I use a 4-quart stock pot), heat the oil and 1 teaspoon of butter. Over medium heat, sauté the onion until translucent (one minute). Stir in the rice, and continue cooking, stirring to coat the rice kernels with the oil and butter, until the rice just begins to brown.
Slide the pan off the heat and add the wine. Stir quickly to incorporate it with the rice, and return the pan to the heat. Turn the burner to low-medium, and add one cup of the stock. Keep the heat just high enough to maintain a simmer in the pan, and stir occasionally until the liquid is absorbed. Add another another cup of stock, and stir occasionally until incorporated. Add the third cup of stock.
Stir in the pesto. When the stock is incorporated, add the final bit of stock, the peas and the pine nuts. Keep stirring, now and then, and when the last bit of stock is incorporated the rice should be tender but not mushy. If you've added all of the stock and the rice is still too chewy, add 1/4 cup of hot water.
Remove the pot from heat, and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter. Stir vigorously to distribute the butter evenly. Add half of the parmesan cheese, and stir to incorporate. Taste, and add black pepper and salt (if you've used store-bought stock, you won't need salt).
Serve hot, topped with the remaining cheese.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Escarole and parmesan risotto, from Food Blogga
Roasted beet risotto, from Love and Olive Oil
Risotto with onions and sage, from Andrea Meyers
Sundried tomato risotto, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Roasted acorn squash risotto, from Gluten-Free Goddess
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