One of the greatest pleasures of growing your own food is standing next to your plot — preferrably while still in your pyjamas — and nibbling on the tenderest first bits of your harvest. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said that Cameron and I probably ate a quarter of our shelling-pea crop in just that way. And even though it cut down dramatically on the number of peas that actually made it to the kitchen, I wouldn’t change a thing.
For this week’s One Local Summer meal, we enjoyed the last of our pea harvest in one of our favorite recipes, a risotto so deliciously savory that we’ve made it three times already this year. We’ve got another batch of peas already slinking their way up the trellis — courtesy of our mild summers, we get to enjoy spring crops nearly all year long — and already I am counting the days until we can make this simple supper again. Because although it’s fine with the regular farmers-market ingredients, it truly becomes its very best when made with tiny, super-sweet, just-picked baby peas.
Risi e Bisi (Venetian Style Pea Risotto)
- adapted from Molto Italiano
2T extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 oz prosciutto, cut into in 1/8-inch dice
3/4 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 quart chicken stock, warmed
1 cup shelled fresh peas
1/4 cup grated hard cheese, such as dry Jack or Parmesan
salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a tall-sided 10-inch skillet or saucier pan. Saute the shallots, celery, and prosciutto over medium heat until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes, until the grains become opaque. Add enough stock to just cover the rice, and stir until stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock a ladleful at a time, waiting until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding the next bit. Taste the rice, and season with salt and pepper. Add peas and cook for 4 minutes, until peas are just tender. Remove from heat, add butter and cheese, and stir until just melted. Serve in warmed shallow bowls.
Farmers and food artisans who created the ingredients for this week’s meal:Bariani, Sacramento: Olive oil
Dirty Girl Produce, Santa Cruz: Shallots
Catalán Family Farm, Hollister: Celery
Boccalone, Oakland: Proscuitto cotto
Lundberg Family Farms, Richvale: Eco-farmed white Arborio rice
Spring Hill Cheese Company, Petaluma: Butter and Dry Jack cheese…plus our own homemade chicken stock, made from Marin Sun Farms and Soul Food Farm chicken bones and our own homegrown English shelling peas