Not your everyday mix of ingredients, maybe, but trust me when I say that Pea and Anise are two flavours that are made to be together!
I first came across the flavour pairing of prawn and pistachio many years back when I was running the Supper Club from Scannell’s Pub in Clonakilty. I was working with a young and gifted head chef, Izaak Bradley, and he told me to trust him that these flavours would blow my mind. And they did! Ever since I have been promising myself to attempt a dish with those flavours.
So in part this dish is inspired by that dish, but it is also a dish that comes out of necessity. You see, along with pretty much everything else in my garden this year, the peas are very, very abundant; as is French Tarragon – a herb I absolutely adored as a kid and usually linked to a Sunday roast chicken – the only dish Mum used tarragon in.
But what goes together with peas but tarragon! It’s sweet, grassy, aniseed notes are a match made in heaven. It also goes well with prawns. And so the four flavour pillars of this risotto meet together! To further enhance the flavour relationship, I swapped out white wine typically used in risottos for Vermouth.
As ever, a risotto is a risotto is a risotto – there really is only one way to cook one; but the potential for different flavours combinations is huge! You’ll find quite a few risotto recipes on The Flavour Files, and many of them are best suited to cooler, darker days when all that will suffice is a big hug in a bowl. But this one is lighter and brighter, perfectly suited to late summer when peas are at their plumpest and sweetest.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 1 tbsp light olive oil
- 3 shallots, finely diced
- 1 large / 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 225 g (or 1 cup) or risotto rice
- 150 ml white vermouth
- 850 ml good quality hot stock (vegetable or chicken)
- 250 g fresh / frozen peas
- 250 g prawns (rinsed and dried)
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped (or 1 tsp of dried)
- 50 g pistachio nuts, shelled and roughly chopped
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt, pepper and EVO
- I like to use a deep saute pan when I cook risotto, but if you don’t have one a large frying pan would do too.
- Heat the pan over a low-medium heat. Add the oil and the shallots and saute gently with the lid on until translucent. Add the garlic, stir.
- Add the risotto rice and stir so it soaks up all the onion and garlic juices. Turn up the heat to medium, and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add the vermouth, stir until the liquid has been soaked up.
- Start to add the stock, a ladle-full at a time. Stir the risotto constantly, only adding more stock as the previous stock has been soaked up by the rice. This will happen quickly at first, but slow down the more stock is added.
- Once about half the stock has been incorporated, add the peas. Continue to add stock and stir.
- Taste the rice, when it is almost cooked through add the fresh prawns. Keep stirring.
- At this point you may have left over stock or you may need to add a little more. The rice should not be chalky, but not be too soft; and the risotto itself should be able to hold shape but not be too thick and stodgy or too watery. I find that risotto texture depends on the person – I prefer mind to retain a little body when served rather than a soupy mess, but it is up to yourself!
- Grate a decent amount of parmesan – don’t be shy about it! Add a handful or so to the risotto and stir through to melt into the rice.
- Add the fresh tarragon. Check for seasoning, add a little more salt if needs me and a couple grinds of black peppercorns.
- Serve up on warmed plates. Scatter about with chopped pistachios and more of the grated parmesan. Finish everything off with a little drizzle of excellent quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Serve this risotto up with a simple leaf salad, and a glass of crisp, cool, summery rose wine.