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  • Writer's pictureSheryl Ness

Risotto with Peas, Lemon, and Pistachios (Risi e Bisi con Limone e Pistacchi)

If you love risotto and you love peas and lemon, you are going to love this recipe. If you've never made risotto, this is the recipe to try as you will fall in love for sure!

I was inspired to make this combination of risotto with peas based on a traditional Risi e Bisi (Rice and Peas) from Italian home cooking. Often, spring vegetables are paired with risotto in Italy. This combination with the addition of a little lemon juice and lemon zest makes it even more special (I think). I can just imagine the families in their little kitchens shelling fresh peas for this dish. Even if we don't have fresh peas quite yet, I find that frozen sweet peas are a nice option.

Vincenzo and I always use our favorite carnaroli rice from Acquerello in any risotto. It's aged to perfection and has a lovely floral taste that stays al dente. If you have the opportunity to try the lemon zest artisan sea salt from Jacobsen Salt Co., you will love it too. I appreciate that this is a small company from the Pacific Northwest and has such a fantastic selection of sea salts to cook and bake with. I want to try them all.

Happy Spring everyone and keep in touch! Vincenzo and I are sending virtual hugs out to everyone who reads this.

Risotto with Peas, Lemon, and Pistachios (Risi e Bisi con Limone e Pistachio)


4 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 vegetable bouillon cubes dissolved in boiling water (around 1-2 quarts)

1 cup Carnaroli risotto rice (Hint: use ½ cup for every two people)

½ cup white wine (cooking wine or regular white wine)

1 cup sweet peas (fresh or frozen)

1 lemon for the juice and lemon zest (to taste – I used about ½ lemon)

4 tablespoons butter

4 oz. parmesan cheese (grated)

To finish the plate:

Parmesan cheese (grated)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Sea salt (to taste – I love the lemon zest sea salt from Jacobsen Salt Co.)

½ cup chopped pistachios (unsalted)

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add bouillon cubes to dissolve. You can also use canned, boxed, or homemade vegetable stock for this. The broth should be warm when adding to the rice as it is cooking. Keep the broth close to the rice on the stove in order to ladle it easily into the rice as it is cooking.

In a sauté pan, warm 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add the rice. Stir for 1-2 minutes until rice is slightly toasted. Next, add ½ cup of white wine and let the wine evaporate. As the wine evaporates, add one large ladle of broth and simmer the rice. The broth should cover the top of the rice. Keep the rice on medium to low heat to simmer while cooking.

Every 2-3 minutes, add another ladle of broth to the rice and stir. It’s not necessary to stir constantly. Continue adding broth until the rice has cooked for 10-12 minutes. This is the midpoint of cooking, and time to add the peas.

Next, add in the sweet peas, and lemon juice/zest. Continue stirring and adding broth every few minutes. Test the rice at around 20 minutes to see if it is ready. Normally, risotto rice takes a total of 20-25 minutes to cook. The mixture should be creamy, white, and tender (not hard inside) when you eat it.

Once the rice is cooked, take off the heat and add 4 tablespoons of butter and 2 oz. of the grated cheese. Stir well and add salt to taste. If needed, add another ladle of broth depending on the consistency of the rice. It should be creamy, not runny, and not too sticky.

Spoon into individual bowls or plates for serving, grate the remaining parmesan cheese over the top along with 2 tablespoons of the chopped pistachios, additional lemon zest, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 4.

Recipe note: Carnaroli or Arborio rice can be used to make risotto. You can find this in the dry goods area of the grocery store near other types of rice or in the Italian specialty area of the store. We love using Acquerello brand rice as it is aged to perfection and just delicious!

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