By Erin Walgamuth
It’s pouring rain and rivulets of water are twisting and turning as they run down my office window. My poor daughter just left for school, I have a feeling she’s going to be pretty wet when she gets to class. I suppose I must be crazy because I love this weather. But then again, I am sitting inside my nice cozy house sipping a hot cup of coffee.
I have decided to make one of my daughter’s favorite dishes. When she gets home from school today she can peel off her wet socks, put on her sweats and sit down to a steaming bowl of lemon risotto with peas. This hot, creamy and aromatic dish will “Warm the cockles of her heart”, as my grandmother used to say.
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Risotto is definitely delicious on a cold rainy day, but it’s wonderful year round, served plain or with any variety of seasonal vegetables and toppings. The great beauty of this dish is that it can be a wonderful side to any meal or an all-in-one entrée. I sometimes incorporate grilled chicken or sautéed shrimp into the risotto. It is extra wonderful if sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese and finely chopped flat leaf parsley…deeeeelicious!
This dish requires that you stir almost constantly for about 30 minutes. So put on some good music, pour yourself a glass of wine or a glass of water and commit. It’s worth the time, I promise.
Note- Arborio rice is named after the town of Arborio in the Po Valley of Italy where it is grown. It is now so popular in the United States that it is also grown in California and Texas. This is short grain rice and because of minimal milling it retains more of its starch content which gives the risotto a creamy texture. The finished dish will have an al dente feel when you bite into it, so don’t worry it’s supposed to be that way!
* I buy my Arborio rice at Trader Joe’s. It’s $2.49 for a 17.06 oz box
I hope you and your family enjoy this simple and versatile dish.
Lemon Risotto with Peas
Serves 4 as a side
You will need
1 3qt heavy bottomed pot with lid
1 3qt pot
1 ½ cup ladle
Prep time is about 10 minutes
Cook time is about 30 minutes
32oz chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. 4 tablespoons gives a very lemony flavor. Add less if you are not crazy about lemon.
½ cup frozen petite peas, thawed
Put chicken broth in 3 quart pot and bring to a boil. After broth comes to a boil turn heat down to low. Put butter and olive oil in the 3qt heavy bottomed pot and turn heat to medium to melt butter. Stir to incorporate butter and olive oil. Add rice and stir constantly for 5 minutes. Slowly add 1 ladle full of hot broth to rice mixture (broth will bubble up initially) and stir constantly until broth has been absorbed, this will take 3-4 minutes each addition. Continue this process, 1 ladle at a time until all the broth has been added and absorbed by the rice. When you have finished the rice will have a creamy texture
Turn off heat and add the lemon juice, stir to incorporate. Add the lemon zest, stir to incorporate. Add the parmesan cheese, stir to incorporate. Add the peas, stir to incorporate. Put lid on the pot and let rest for 5 minutes. The peas will warm up in the hot rice. Serve.
Erin Walgamuth  has been an assistant Food Stylist for television and print for the past 26 years and writes this column using her own recipes. Check out her other creations in our Hometown Recipe  section.
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