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 this creamy classic dish. Here is a favorite - risotto with peas, called risotto milanese in Italy. Simply heaven for rice lovers, and ingredients are easily kept in the pantry. Read on for more variations.
My best risotto recipe and I've been making it for decades. Once you learn the basics of making risotto, you can make so many delightful variations.
Why You'll Like This Recipe
- If you love rice, you'll love risotto, and risotto with peas is a simple way to start making risotto
- It's comfort food in a pan; the ultimate rice dish.
- Ingredients are easily kept in the pantry.
- There are many variations of risotto.
- Add a protein, like seared scallops, shrimp, diced chicken, cook sausage.
This ingredient list reflects risotto in the style of Milan, Italy. called Milanese. It's an incredible Italian rice dish. It's also called risotto alla milanese. Switch out the peas and saffron and you'll have a basic risotto.
- Chicken broth: This is a good place to use homemade. If you buy your broth, buy low sodium and read labels to get a good quality broth. Look in the freezer section too.
- Saffron: Saffron is a beautiful red color and looks like threads. It's the most expensive spice in the world, sold in very small amounts. Good thing is you only need a little bit for the recipe. It gives this recipe the beautiful golden color and flavor.
- Oil: good quality extra virgin olive oil shines in risotto. Here is the olive oil always in my pantry.
- Onion: Sautéed onion is the savory base for risotto called the soffritto. It's like the Italian mirepoix trio of onion, carrot and celery. For risotto, use just onion. Go with a yellow, brown or white onion.
- Garlic: A must have for more flavor, cooked with the onion. Use fresh cloves instead of jarred garlic.
- Rice: For creamy risotto, use the right rice; Italian superfino rices. They have just the right amount of starch. My favorite is this carnaroli rice but arborio works too and is more available in the markets. You can't use standard rice for real risotto.
- Wine: White wine is the best for this risotto. Use a little mini airline sized bottle, either Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Wine adds dimension and flavor.
- Peas: Frozen petite peas work well, and the petites are more tender than regular peas. If it's spring, use fresh peas and blanch them first (cook briefly in boiling salted water).
- Parmesan cheese: Get real Parmigiano-Reggiano, the Italian "king of cheeses". It's optional if you are dairy-free, but it adds a rich saltiness and classic savory flavor if you can handle dairy.
Please see the recipe card for measurements.
Chef's Tip: Good broth is important for risotto. If you 've never made homemade, try one of these two recipes: long simmered homemade chicken brone broth or a faster version, Instant Pot chicken broth or other pressure cooker. Freeze homemade broth in batches for recipes such as this risotto.
Recipe Substitutions and Variations
There are almost endless variations of risotto, here are just a few ideas:
- Skip the peas and use cooked chopped asparagus for an asparagus risotto recipe.
- Add crisp crumbled bacon for risotto with peas and bacon.
- Add chopped oil-packed (drained) sun-dried tomatoes.
- Add a little chopped fennel to the onion when cooking the soffritto.
- Add mushrooms.
- Add a protein, like diced cooked chicken, for chicken and pea risotto.
- If you prefer not to cook with wine, just skip it and continue with the recipe.
- Add diced cooked ham for a pea and ham risotto.
- To top with spicy Italian shrimp, make the easy shrimp from this recipe.
Risotto is not hard to cook. Get your prep work done, and with a little patience and stirring, you'll have a wonderful risotto ahead.
Step 1: Prep and set-up for cooking. Chop the onion and garlic, get the broth heated up on the stove top, and measure out your rice and wine. Place everything near the stove before you start.
Step 2: Saute the onion in olive oil until soft, then add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes until the grains are coated in oil.
Step 3: Add the wine and cook most of it off. Next, start slowly adding simmering broth, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Add the broth at about ¼ cup to a ⅓ cup pace. You will know when to add more broth when you can draw your spoon across the rice and a trough forms.
When you're near the end of the broth, stir in the peas. Note - You may not use all 3 cups of broth. Taste the risotto. It should be tender and creamy to the bite. Serve in warmed bowls, with Parmesan if using.
The Best Pan for Risotto
A good pan for making risotto (and sauces) is called a saucier. It has sloped sides making it easy to stir the rice. It's a terrific pan to have in your collection. If you don't have such a pan, be sure as you stir your risotto to get into the outer edges of the pan so the grains of rice do not stick.
If you have a medium size, 3 ½ quart Le Creuset, its works fine because the sides are not perfectly straight and just a little sloped. Use a wooden spoon when making risotto to treat the beautiful rice grains gently.
Serve risotto in low wide soup bowls, pasta bowls, or risotto bowls. Warm them up in a low oven keeps the risotto warm.
Risotto is the name of a classic Italian rice dish made with one of several special Italian superfino rices with high starch contents. These rice varieties are short to medium grain and absorb a lot of broth providing the creamy texture of good risotto. Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano rices are traditionally used for making risotto.
Purists and risotto-lovers (like me) say no. Some people say a long grain white rice will work, but it's just not the same. Buy the real rice for risotto and you will see why it's so good.
Because you want the starchiness of the rice as it produces the creamy texture of risotto.
For more recipes with rice, or making cauliflower rice for a lower carb side dish option check these recipes out. The pork chops make a terrific gravy, and are nice served with rice.
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Risotto With Peas (Risotto Milanese)
- 3 cups chicken broth or stock preferably homemade
- ⅛ teaspoon saffron threads crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ cup chopped onion ½ medium
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- ⅔ cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- ⅓ cup frozen petite peas thawed
- ⅓ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese optional
- 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 ¼ cup or so at a time, stirring the risotto gently with the wooden spoon until the broth is absorbed. Do again with more broth, stirring until almost absorbed. Add more broth when you can draw your spoon through the rice and it holds a line. Repeat until most of the broth is incorporated but you may not use all 3 cups. Towards then end, taste it for texture. The rice should be al dente, soft to the bite. You will feel when it is done. It takes about 20-25 minutes. Season with any additional salt and pepper if desired.