Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Stelline and Peas. Risotto for the Busy Girl

When I host my non-foodie friends for dinner chez-nous, sometimes they ask me how I made the dish they're enjoying. More often than not, their eyes glaze over in the middle of my explanation.  Then they tell me they could never make it themselves because they don't have the time nor the skill to cook, please pass the salad.  Seems strange to me but there you go!

Here then, is a simple, delicious, and easy to make dish for all my busy, dear friends. 

Stelline and Peas.  Risotto for the Busy Girl

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a side dish

8 cups (2 litres) vegetable stock or or stock made with good quality vegetable broth cubes 
3/4 cup (135g) Stelline or Orzo shaped pasta
1 cup (135g) fresh shelled peas (about 250g in the pod)
1/2 cup (121g) whole milk
1 tablespoon (14g) butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives 
1 tablespoon of fruity olive oil for drizzling
Fresh ground pepper
Parmesan for shaving
Optional:  arugula

A Microplane grater is really useful for making Parmesan shavings 

1.  In a large saucepan, boil the stock, salt well, and add the pasta.  Take note of the cooking time on the pasta package and subtract two minutes.  Set a timer for this time.  For example, the recommended cooking time for Barilla Stelline is 7 minutes.  You should set your  timer for 5.
2.  While the pasta is cooking, put the butter and milk in a medium saucepan.
3.  When your timer rings, add the peas to the water with the pasta. Boil for one minute.  Drain the pasta and peas and add it to the medium saucepan containing the milk and butter.
4.  Stir the mixture on medium heat, until the milk thickens a bit and creates a light sauce.  Add more milk if you'd like a more sauce.  Adjust seasoning.
5.  Spoon the pasta into warmed individual bowls, top with the chopped chives, freshly grated pepper, shaved Parmesan and drizzle with fruity olive oil.  If you're using arugula, arrange the leaves on top of each dish.

1.  I recommend you buy peas from Farmers' Markets where they are freshly picked.  Always ask to taste them before you buy.  If they're fresh, the pods should squeak when you rub them together.  One day after picking, they lose their subtle flavour and sweetness and the texture begins to change from tender to tough.

2.  As a rough estimate, you'll need two pounds of pods to get one pound of peas.


Lost in Provence said...

Ooh! I wish that I had read this BEFORE going to the market--now I will have to wait until the Saturday market to give it a go. Now, I know that you love peas but I have always resisted them as it was the ONE thing that my Mom overcooked growing up. And you know as well as I that North American peas are not the same thing as Frenchy peas! :)

Gustia said...

You're right! The French peas are so tender and sweet by comparison. I'm pea crazed this time of the year - I just I can't get enough of them!

Hannah said...

Beautiful photo, and beautifully simple recipe! I make a dish like this all the time- basic, "buttery" pastina is a comfort food to me, since I used to eat it all the time as a kid. I do even add peas to mine, too. :)

Gustia said...

Thank you Hannah! Sometimes when I'm not feeling well I make this dish for myself too, minus the peas! You're right, it's great comfort food.

Bronwyn in Hong Kong said...

Thank you for this treat! And agreed, love the picture :-)