A friend of mine had the best post for the new year:  May your 2012 be filled with the unending pursuits of the two questions, “What if?” and “Why not?” 

I hope everyone had a fab new year’s celebration … we had the quiet night we hoped for and watched the fireworks over the Thames followed by a very fun day with friends that we don’t get to see often enough.  A very civilized way to ring out the old and ring in the new. 

So, now, the new year begins in earnest and all the feasting of the last couple of weeks is behind us.  If your January “detox” includes going low- or no-carb, then look away now because this is one of my favorite risotto recipes.  If, however, you’re just trying to cut down your sat-fats, then this is a great way to feel like you’re treating yourself without using cream (and, if you’re really trying to be good, you can leave out the cheese).  That’s what I’ve always liked about risotto – it’s got a gorgeous, rich texture without tons of the “bad stuff.”

Leek and Pea Risotto

  • Good drizzle olive oil (around 2-4 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp butter (optional)
  • 4 medium leeks (I like mine very leek-y, if you aren’t a huge fan, you can reduce this to 2), cut in half lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • 1 1/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 – 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

In a large shallow pan, heat the olive oil (and optional butter) over medium heat until warm, then add the leeks and cook until soft before adding the rice, stirring to coat.  Add the wine and simmer until the wine is absorbed, then start adding the chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until absorbed before adding another 1/2 cup.  When you’re ready to add the final 1/2 cup, add the peas at the same time.  Total cooking time will be about 45 minutes and the final result will have a creamy texture and the risotto will retain it’s shape without being too al dente.  Just before serving, add the cheese.  This makes a great base for some roasted chicken or pork – or, it makes a nice main for the vegetarian in your life.