I had a dish similar to this one on a vacation about five years ago, and I absolutely loved it. The dish was delicious, so of course I attempted to recreate it! I have tried a number of variations (including topping with fresh pea sprouts, omitting the additional peas, and experimenting with dried basil), but the recipe I am including in this post is the one I make the most often.
Concerning modifications, I don’t think the pea sprouts are worth the extra cost, but are a lovely topping if you are serving to dinner guests. I also prefer the dish with fresh basil, but have made it a number of times with dried basil. I use frozen peas, but it is good (if not better) with fresh peas. The great thing about cooking is that there really isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. So, use what you have and enjoy!
Side note: I love bread. I almost always serve rosemary focaccia bread (click here for recipe) with this risotto. I think it is a stellar combination!
From a cost perspective, the dish cost us about $1.50 per serving to make. An obvious way to make the dish cheaper is to either make your own vegetable stock or use a stock cube. I usually pay for pre-made broth, which makes the dish a lot more expensive than it needs to be.
Frugal Cost Analysis:
Pea and Parmesan Risotto for $1.50 per serving
This easy and delicious risotto combines frozen peas, fresh basil, and Parmesan cheese, which results in a delicious vegetarian meal.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 32 ounces vegetable broth + hot water, if needed
- 10 ounces frozen peas (you don’t need exactly 10 ounces. Less is fine. If you love peas, more is fine!)
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Heat vegetable broth in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat.
- Heat frozen peas following bag instructions. Note: Steam in the bag frozen vegetables are more expensive, but quite convenient for this recipe.
- Add butter to a large saucepan and and heat using medium-low heat. After it is heated, add diced onion. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until onion is softened. Stir the onions occasionally, and do not allow them to burn.
- Increase heat to medium and add arborio rice. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and 1/2 cup of peas to a blender. Also add 4 fresh basil leaves (or a pinch of dried basil). Blend until smooth. Set aside for use later.
- Reduce heat of the large saucepan to medium-low. Add a ladleful of broth to the rice. Stir (you will need to stir frequently throughout the entire broth process). Once the broth is absorbed, add another ladleful of broth. Continue this process until the rice is tender. (I generally taste the rice to confirm it isn’t still crunchy). This process will likely take 20-25 minutes. If you use up all of the broth, continue with hot water.
- Remove from heat. Add pea puree and stir. Add shredded Parmesan cheese and stir. Add remaining peas and stir. Allow to set for about 3-5 minutes.
- Top with additional Parmesan cheese, pepper, and salt (if desired). Enjoy!