"Move Over Winter" Risotto


As I was sitting at my desk and dreaming of lunch time, I suddenly got a craving for risotto. Not just risotto, but risotto with spring ingredients because I am SO ready for no more winter! So, fast forward to 5pm and I was on a mission to get the ingredients for a pea pancetta and mushroom risotto. I am very glad to report the mission was indeed ACCOMPLISHED. While I’ve made variations of this recipe, this was a first for this trio of featured ingredients. Finished with the Italian version of a “cherry on top” (the parmesan cheese), this dish certainly did not disappoint!

All you need for this recipe is a few good ingredients and some time/TLC for an insanely creamy risotto.


Sautéed Mushrooms

6oz Mushrooms (I used baby Bella), sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary, keep whole
Kosher salt/black pepper

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds, or until golden. Add the rosemary sprigs and sauté for 15 seconds (enough to get fragrant). Add the mushrooms, season with salt/pepper and cook for 10 minutes.


1.5 cups arborio rice (this is the key to risotto)
4 oz pancetta, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 white wine
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 quart + 1/2 cup chicken stock
Sautéed mushrooms (see above)
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
Salt, to taste

Begin by adding the olive oil and pancetta over medium heat in a large saucepan. Cook until pancetta is crispy, but tender. Remove the pancetta from the heat and keep the oil in the saucepan. Add the onion to the saucepan and cook 1-2 minutes, or until translucent and full of pancetta flavor. Add the arborio rice and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes. This allows the rice to get a nutty taste. Add the wine to de-glaze the pan and cook until the liquid is absorbed.

Now comes the “TLC” part (minus the waterfalls). Add a 1/2 cup chicken stock and stir frequently until the liquid gets absorbed. CONTINUE this process until all the chicken stock is used. This process should take 25-30 minutes. Drinking the unused wine during this time is highly encouraged!

At this point, the risotto should have it’s signature creamy texture and should have a “bite,” but be cooked through. At this point, add the butter and parmesan cheese, along with salt, to taste. Next, add the peas, 1/2 of the pancetta, mushrooms and parsley. Stir it and serve it in your favorite dish. Top the risotto with the remaining pancetta and additional parsley and parmesan. Now, sit back, relax and enjoy this decadent and filling spring take on risotto!

Elizabeth Canas