Danilo Cortellini, Head Chef at The Italian Embassy in London shares his recipe.
A pea risotto? I know it sounds like a dish more suited to the nursery but believe me there is so much more to this recipe you’ll be really surprised! And if your kids like it too, well, it’s an added bonus, isn’t it?!
Cooking Time: 30 mins
280 g of Riso Gallo Carnaroli rice
40 g of grated Grana Padano
50 g of onion (finely chopped)
25 g of unsalted butter
1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock
200 ml of dry white wine
160 g of green peas (off the pod or frozen)
2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
1 small punnet of pea shoots as garnish
4 anchovies cut in segments
200 g of cherry tomatoes
1 lemon zest
1 orange zest
2 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar
1 small bunch of thyme
I small bunch of basil
1 garlic clove (optional)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Salted “hard” ricotta (to taste)
Blanch the peas in salted boiling water for 1 minute and cool them down immediately in iced water to retain the green colour.
Set aside half of them and leave whole for the risotto. Use the remaining peas to create a puree to enhance the flavour of your risotto.
Sweat 30 g of onion in a casserole with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the peas, a glass of water and blend it until smooth.
Prepare the cherry tomatoes.
To peel the cherry tomatoes lightly score them with a paring knife on one side and blanch them very quickly in boiling water. Cool them with ice.
Peel and dress with olive oil, orange and lemon zest, balsamic vinegar, a few thyme and basil leafs, 1 garlic clove and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and let them marinate for a few minutes.
Bake in a small tray at 150° C for about 7 minutes until glazed by the balsamic marinade. Don’t let the balsamic burn on the sides of the tray, which can happen if it is too large.
Gently fry the remaining chopped onion in a small casserole with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt for about 10-15 minutes on low heat, until well golden and caramelised. Keep to one side.
In a separate large casserole, start to roast the rice on low heat with a pinch of salt, without adding oil or fat. In this way, the heat reaches the core of each rice grain resulting in more uniform al dente rice.
Keep stirring the rice, so the rice does not catch on the bottom of the pan or burn. When the rice is very hot, pour half of the wine in.
Let the alcohol evaporate, set the cooking time to 15 minutes and add the simmering stock a ladle at a time, little by little. Stir the rice occasionally, and keep cooking.
Halfway through the cooking, add the onion to the rice and the pea puree.
Once the time is up, add the whole peas, taste the risotto and if you’re happy with the texture, remove it from the heat.
The next step is called “mantecatura” – with the right movements you can make the risotto creamier and increase its natural ooziness. Add the Grana Padano and butter to the rice. Stir with energy to incorporate extra air. Add the remaining wine and keep stirring until the risotto is nice and creamy. Season to taste.
Plate the hot risotto straight away and top with the glazed cherry tomatoes, the anchovies and pea shoots as a garnish. Shave over a bit of salted ricotta if you’d like and add an extra drizzle of balsamic.
About Danilo Cortellini
Having spent almost twenty years in the hospitality business, Danilo has worked in some of the finest restaurants across Italy and London currently holds the position of Head Chef at the Italian Embassy in London.
Also founder of Danilo Cortellini Ltd, a food, drink and restaurant consultancy company and TIRAMISOO EVENTS, my London based catering and events company.