Frozen vegetables are nowhere near as grim as so many food snobs would have you believe, yet the taste of fresh broad beans (also known as fava beans) and peas reigns supreme. While peas and broad beans are a common dislike amongst Brits, their unfavourable reputation is generally due to memories of unlovable preparation. Fresh from the pod, however, peas are delicious either raw, quickly blanched, or cooked in butter, and broad beans can either be eaten podded or double-podded, which refers to removing the outer grey skins. Most recipes will call for removing the skin from broad beans, but when the beans are young, the skin can add plenty of depth to certain dishes. In this broad bean and pea risotto recipe, the skins add both textural contrast and a very feint bitterness which contrasts the peas’ natural sweetness. Using young, fresh beans is key.
If you’re preparing a salad, I’d suggest removing the skins – even though the process is somewhat laborious. And if you’d rather eat double-podded broad beans in this risotto recipe, I’d suggest saving time by podding and blanching as usual (see recipe), then removing the skins with less difficulty once the beans have cooled slightly.
A true celebration of rice, risotto requires a fair amount of energy and concentration to get right, but the result is far greater than the sum of its basic parts. The rice also acts as a perfect canvas for seasonal ingredients such as broad beans and peas, with hundreds of recipe variations.
This broad bean and pea risotto recipe is fairly simple. While slowly sweating shallots in butter, the podded broad beans and peas are blanched for just two minutes then refreshed in ice-cold water. The shallots are then combined with the rice before adding a splash of white wine, followed by chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make the dish vegetarian) one ladle at a time. Once the rice is al dente, after around 15-20 minutes of cooking, remove from the heat and gently fold in the blanched legumes, plus a good amount of butter, chopped parsley, lemon juice, and a generous amount of parmesan (or vegetarian alternative). I’d also suggest cooking extra and making arancini with the leftovers.
Broad bean and pea risotto recipe
- 250 g broad beans approx. 75g podded weight
- 250 g fresh peas approx. 75g podded weight
- 2.5 l chicken stock alternatively use vegetable stock to make the dish vegetarian
- 2 Echalion shallots finely chopped
- 400 g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 250 ml dry white wine
- 50 g butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil/rapeseed oil
- 1 lemon juice only
- 100 g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative) grated
- 25 g flat leaf parsley finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- First, heat the stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- While the stock is heating, remove the broad beans and peas from their pods. Also prepare a bowl of ice-cold water, large enough for the broad beans and peas once blanched.
- In a separate large frying pan or wok, heat half of the butter and the oil and add the shallots to the pan. Season with salt and cook the shallots over a low heat until translucent.
- While the shallots are sweating, add the broad beans and peas to the boiling stock and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove the broad beans and peas using a slotted spoon or drain, but reserve the stock. Refresh the broad beans and peas in the bowl of ice-cold water and set aside.
- Decrease the heat under the stock pot and continue to keep warm.
- When the shallots become translucent, add the rice to the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and stir quickly until the onions, butter, and rice are combined. This will take between a minute and 90 seconds. Pour the wine into the pan, increase the heat to high and stir until the wine is absorbed.
- Next, begin to add the stock to the pan containing the rice, one ladleful at a time, and stir almost continuously until most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeating this process until the rice is al dente. This should take 15-20 minutes. (Taste after 15 minutes and don’t worry if you don’t end up using all of the stock).
- As soon as the rice is cooked al dente and a the risotto has good consistency, remove the pan from the heat. Add the broad beans and peas, plus the rest of the butter, the lemon juice, parsley, half of the grated parmesan, and a pinch of salt (if needed). Gently fold until all is incorporated, then plate evenly between four bowls.
- To finish, scatter some more parmesan over each dish, and season with a crack of black pepper.