Here's a July risotto filled with delicate peas and onions, aged salume, cheeses and of course white wine. Tastes like Summer.
I've been thinking we were due for a heat wave, and I haven't been disappointed. Fortunately, a heat wave in Vermont is not the end of the world; the garden is still growing wildly, as is the puppy*. However, a strategic harvest of the remaining peas was in order, resulting in an overage, as we would say at work.
The offsetting adjustment is this Risotto, featuring crisp/tender pea slices, Vidalia onions, Sopressata salume, wine and of course, lots of cheese. I've combined my Hawks Mountain cheese with Parmesan, for a bit more complex flavor.
Actually, every time I make risotto, a couple of things come to mind. First, the 1949 movie Bitter Rice, with Vittorio Gassman and Sylvana Mangano (Miss Rome). Good grief. I suppose I watched this movie at an impressionable age, but it was pretty extreme. Beautiful Italian women working themselves to death in the rice fields, with a lot of passionate mayhem thrown in. It made me appreciate things more.
The other thing is that I was fortunate to live near Ipswich, Massachusetts, at the time that Rosario Del Nero opened his restaurant, The Apple Orchard. He was always making this amazing rice thing... risotto? What was that? His risottos would change with the seasons, but were always creamy, wine-y and perfectly delicious. I've loved risotto ever since.
Oh well. That was then and this is now, in Vermont. Here, I'm making my own risotto, with my own cheese, herbs and vegetables. Nothing bitter about this rice.
Risotto with Snap Peas, Vidalia Onions and Salume
4 T best-quality olive oil (unsalted butter if you're a risotto purist)
1 cup best-quality Arborio rice
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock, heated (approximate)
3 oz. Sopressata salami, or similar hard salami
1 medium Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh Thyme
2 cups snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
6 T. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 T. freshly grated Gruyere-type cheese (I make my own cheese, but any good Alpine-style cheese will work)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the oil in a medium saute pan with straight sides. Heat and add the shallot. Saute over medium heat until transparant, then add rice; stir with wooden spoon over medium heat until shiny and translucent (about 5 minutes). Keep heat a a constant medium throughout the recipe.
2. Add the wine. Stir until wine is almost absorbed, then stir in half the stock. Stir intermittently until the liquid is almost absorbed, then add half the Vidalia onion. This will permit the onion to release water and combine with the rice before adding the rest.
3. Stir every couple of minutes until almost absorbed, then add the salame and thyme. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.
4. Add the rest of the stock, the other half of the onion, stir until almost absorbed.
5. Microwave the peas for about 1.5 minutes, or until crisp but cooked. Stir in to the risotto.
6. Finally, when rice kernels are finished, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, then add the cheeses and turn in until blended.
7. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Gathering the peas:
It's been a couple of weeks since Heidi's run-in with the pea vines, but she hasn't forgotten them. She took off like a bullet to investigate:
She found the vine that had trapped her last time, now brown and dry. This was quite a find, and Libby was politely appreciative.
While I picked peas, Heidi dashed around and under the fallen vines, just to prove that she could. She emerged with a large, ripe pea, and ran for the field, so that she could enjoy it.