Risotto Milanese With Saffron and Peas

By Sally Cameron on October 03, 2011

Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetables & Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Making risotto is like therapy in a pan. Slowly stir hot broth into rice until the grains are tender and creamy. A little wine for the pan, a little wine for you. And then you get to eat it. Here is one recipe that’s a favorite – risotto Milanese with saffron and peas. Simply heaven for rice lovers.

risotto milanese with saffron | afoodcentriclife.com

Risotto Milanese With Saffron and Peas

I’ve always been crazy about rice, so when I discovered risotto I fell madly in love with this classic Italian dish. For me, it’s the ultimate rice comfort food. Its been twenty years since I made my first risotto with sun-dried tomatoes. Since then, I’ve made many versions, but Risotto Milanese is one we enjoy often. In fact I just made it for dinner at friends house last night, this time topped with seared scallops.

Pantry Basics

The nice thing about risotto is you can keep the basics in your pantry: rice, onions, garlic, olive oil, wine and broth. All you have to do is choose whether to add vegetables, a little chicken, maybe some chicken sausage. Whatever you have on hand, whatever sounds good. All top Risotto Milanese well. I often add shrimp or scallops which work beautifully. Of course you can serve it simply as a side dish or first course to accompany roast chicken, meat or other dishes.

risotto milanese with saffron | afoodcentriclife.com

Making Risotto

When making risotto, cook the onion in a little olive oil until soft, add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes until the grains are coated in oil. Next, start slowly adding simmering broth, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Add about 1/2 cup at a time. You will know when to add more broth when you can draw your spoon across the rice and a trough forms. Cook, stirring, until all of the broth is incorporated and the rice is creamy and tender to the bite. Serve in warmed bowls.

risotto milanese with saffron | afoodcentriclife.com

Notes on Ingredients

The critical component to risotto is the rice. The special short and medium grained Italian rice varieties used for risotto can be found in many grocery stores and online. It’s the high starch content of these rices that give risotto its creaminess through their ability to slowly absorb lots of broth. The easiest rice to find is Arborio. My favorite is Carnaroli with a firmer texture, high starch content and longer grain. Use what you can find.

Beautiful Saffron

Risotto Milanese gets its characteristic golden hue from saffron. One of the most costly and hard to produce spices in the world, the deep reddish-orange threads come from the purple saffron crocus flower. Only three threads, three stigmas per flower, are laboriously harvested by hand then dried. That translates into a spice worth thousands of dollars per pound.

Thankfully saffron can be purchased in small quantities. You can buy it by the gram or half gram. While saffron is a not cheap, a little goes a long way.

Nutrition Facts
Risotto Milanese With Saffron and Peas
Amount Per Serving
Calories 565 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 11mg4%
Sodium 380mg17%
Potassium 530mg15%
Carbohydrates 69g23%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 20g40%
Vitamin A 315IU6%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Calcium 237mg24%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
tisotto Milanese | afoodcentriclife.com
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Risotto Milanese With Saffron and Peas

Risotto with golden saffron and peas is a wonderful comfort food dish. The ingredients may already be in your pantry and fridge. Make it your own: Top with chicken, seared scallops, shrimp or even sliced chicken sausage for a satisfying main course. If you are not a pea fan, use sliced, cooked asparagus. To make it vegetarian or vegan, use homemade vegetable broth and skip the cheese. This recipe doubles for four, it will take longer to cook. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword rice, Risotto
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 565kcal


  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock preferably homemade
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion 1/2 medium
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup   frozen petite peas thawed
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place chicken broth in a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Crush the saffron into the pan and allow it to release its flavor and golden color into the broth.
  • Place a medium saucepan with sloping sides (easier to stir than a straight sided pan) over medium heat. Heat olive oil then add onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Add the garlic and cook another 60 seconds.
  • Add the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring, until the rice is coated with the oil. Add the wine and cook until it is almost gone. Season with a little salt.
  • Begin adding the hot broth about a half a cup at a time, stirring the risotto gently with the wooden spoon until the broth is absorbed. Do again with the next half cup of broth, stirring until almost absorbed. Repeat until all of the broth is incorporated, about 20-25 minutes.


Calories: 565kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 380mg | Potassium: 530mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 315IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 237mg | Iron: 4mg
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  1. susan - October 27th, 2011

    I am dying to make this. However, I would end up eating the whole pan – would that be so wrong?

  2. Sally - October 28th, 2011

    Not in my book! We love risotto and I make it frequently. It’s so versatile and tastes so good!

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