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Asparagus and Pea Risotto

This is a simple risotto using fresh water (no stock or white wine - but of course you can add such ingredients according to your preference). Local asparagus from the farms in my neighbourhood is best, but stores or supermarkets offer excellent choices. The additional of chillies and garlic provide more layers of flavour, alongside the sweetness of peas and pea shoots. A perfect vegetarian recipe.

Serves 4


  • 200 gr risotto rice (Carnaroli or Arborio)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • 2 green or red birds eye chillies

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano ( I prefer Sicilian oregano)

  • 50 gr butter

  • 100 gr grated parmesan cheese

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 750 ml hot water

  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

  • 12 large asparagus spears, woody ends removed

  • 100 gr peas (frozen is fine)

  • A medium bunch of pea shoots 

  • Extra shavings of parmesan cheese



  1. Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and chilies until softened but not coloured. Add the rice and fry for one minute, stirring frequently, until coated by the oil. Add 250 ml hot water, season with salt and black pepper and cook until the liquid is absorbed by the rice.

  2. Add extra hot water a ladleful at a time, stirring between each addition to allow the liquid to be completely absorbed

  3. About 5-7 minutes - just before the rice is fully cooked and soft - add the frozen peas to some boiling water cook for 5 minutes, drain and add to the risotto

  4. Cook the asparagus in some boiling water until just tender (a few minutes only), drain, chop into thirds and keep hot in the pan adding a touch of butter to give a shiny, fresh finish.

  5. Add oregano, lemon juice, butter and parmesan to the risotto. Make sure the mixture is creamy and moist. Taste and add seasoning, as required

  6. Serve: two small ladle servings per portion onto warm plates, arrange the asparagus in the risotto, add shaved parmesan and top with fresh pea shoots. Serve immediately.

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