I had seen an interesting recipe for Rosemary Shrimp with Mint Pesto that I wanted to try out. Originally I was going to do it as a part of a little gathering I was hosting last Wednesday, but because of work and Valentine's day, I didn't get to do as much pre-prep as I wanted to so I ditched it. I had already gotten all the ingredients so I wound up making it for dinner for Mark and myself on Saturday. However, since the orignal recipe was meant to be an appetizer and I was now elevating it to entree status, I needed something to serve along with it. Pasta was an obvious choice and one that I'm sure would work perfectly well, but I wanted to do something a little different. I toyed with the idea of couscous. I considered polenta. I even saw a recipe for shreded zucchini that I thought might be interesting. Nothing seemed really right. What else goes well with mint? Peas! Mint loves peas. And peas love mint. A little more research led me to the clever combination of peas and risotto, perfect as the weather had just gotten cool and windy. What better way to warm up than with a big bowl of risotto? This dish is sort of a combination of recipes from Jamie Oliver and Tyler Florence.
2 cups fresh peas, cooked (if using frozen, rinse under cool water to thaw)
8 cups chicken stock, heated
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 stalk celerys, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Put 1 cup peas and 1/3 cup chicken stock into a blender and blend until smooth; set aside.
Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add celery and shallots and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in rice, making sure to coat all the rice grains with the oil. Add wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Ladle in 1 cup of hot stock. This is what it will look like:
Using a wooden spoon, stir gently until most of the stock has been absorbed at which point it should look like this:
So keep adding stock, a cup at a time, and stirring. After about 10 to 15 minutes, test the rice. It should be cooked and creamy but still have a slight bite to it. (You may not need all of the stock.) Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the butter and Parmesan. Gently fold in the pea puree and remaining 1 cup whole peas. Taste for seasoning.
I love making risotto but I think this was the first time I've done it with celerey, which I have to say I sort of loved. Something like a big bowl of starchy risotto can feel really heavy, but the combination of the celery, the peas and the mint gave the dish a light freshness. It's a nice balance of flavors and textures. The shrimp was great with it but you could also serve it with scallops or procuitto, or to keep it vegetarian just add more vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, sqash, asparagus, carrot. Unique and at the same time, versatile.