I absolutely love to cook. I really like to challenge myself in the kitchen but sometimes I like to just throw a bunch of stuff in a crock pot, set it and forget it. But this is not one of those times. Risotto takes a lot of patience and time but this dish is totally worth it. I really enjoy cooking for my boyfriend Eric when I can. Unfortunately, I work extremely late nights and weekends so I can’t do it as often as I can but when I do, I try to make something special.
I was looking for a refreshing and light but filling dish for dinner so this recipe is perfect for those warmer Spring nights. I had a bunch of extra frozen peas in my freezer so I thought this would be a perfect yet delicious way to get rid of them.
You all need to know; Trader Joe’s is my favorite. Being able to go there and buy organic products for very reasonable prices is great. Don’t get me wrong, Whole Foods is amazing… but not for my wallet. I only go there for special occasions. Here are some of the products I got at T. Joe’s. Not pictured is the chicken sausage I used which is also from Trader Joe’s. This was actually my first time working with leeks. Leeks are like using a milder onion. I learned that from one of my cooking idols Ina Garten. I learn so much from her show!
This recipe originally called for chorizo sausage which I couldn’t find so I used Andouille chicken sausage instead. Same flavor profiles but I would add a little salt if you are going this route as the chicken sausage doesn’t have a ton of fat in it. Although this recipe is for two, the risotto will make enough for 4 servings. I like making extra so I can take some to work, so if you cut the ingredients for the risotto in half you’ll have the perfect amount for two people.
Cook the leeks and the sausage in one tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil (add salt and pepper here). After those are cooked through add the cup of Arborio rice. Cook the rice dry for about a minute and then add your wine. I have cooking wine on hand but any good white wine works great and then you can pair it with dinner. A light pilsner or pale ale would go well with this dish as well if you’re more of a beer person. Cook the rice, sausage and leeks until the wine is absorbed. Next, add one cup of your heated chicken stock and let the rice mixture simmer. Keep adding cups of chicken stock after the previous cup has been absorbed (4 cups total) and stir periodically so your rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Meanwhile, make your pea puree. Add one cup of thawed out peas (or if you have access to fresh peas definitely use those! I just had to make some room in my freezer), 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ¼ cup of chicken stock at room temp, mint and basil to your food processor. Turn on low and then switch to high to make sure all the herbs are full incorporated. You should end up with a pesto-like substance.
What about the chicken? Well I was lucky enough to have my hunky sou chef in the house to man the grill for me (that’s Eric). To prep the chicken, I seasoned with salt and pepper and then I covered both sides with lemon zest from one lemon. I handed it over to Eric who grilled it as you normally would. Honestly, I don’t work the grill very often. That’s Eric’s domain and he’s the best!
After your last cup of chicken stock is absorbed your risotto should be creamy but not liquidy. Add a cup of whole peas, lemon zest of 1 lemon and as much Pecorino Romano cheese as you wish (I used about 1/3 cup). I used my rasp that I used for the lemons to grate my cheese. Makes things a lot easier and saves you from cleaning a cheese grater on top of everything else. Next, take your risotto off the heat and fold in your pea puree. I found that I didn’t use all of the puree, just enough to coat the risotto. I didn’t want to over-power it, but you’re welcome to use as much as you see fit.
Next time to plate and enjoy! I topped it with more chopped up mint and basil and cheese. I served some wheat bread with it as well. I hope you love this Spring meal as much as we did. Made for a great way to ring in Spring!
SPRING PEA RISOTTO AND GRILLED CHICKEN FOR TWO
- 2 all natural organic chicken breasts
- 2 lemons
- 2 chopped leeks
- 1 cup of Arborio rice
- ½ cup of white wine (Chardonnay would be delicious)
- 4 cups of chicken
- 2 links of Trader Joe’s Andouille chicken sausage diced
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1/3 cup of Pecorino Ramono cheese
- 2 cups of organic peas (frozen or fresh)
- ¼ cup of fresh mint
- ¼ cup of fresh basil
- Salt and pepper