For a long time certain of my favorite dishes (for example souffles and risottos) were restricted to restaurants, because I felt intimidated to make them myself. I lost my souffle-phobia thanks to my friend Vanda, who kept sending me e-mails about the broccoli or spinach & cheese or other tasty spur-of-the-moment souffle that she was serving for dinner. Indeed, she can whip up a souffle in her sleep…   but because she was 6,000 miles away in Brazil, I resorted to Julia Child in order to Master the Art of Souffle Cooking.

Risotto took a little more time. I had some failures that slowed down my learning curve. Then it hit me: my main problem was lack of patience. You can’t rush it, and you can’t be completely sure how long it will take. Risotto takes however long it needs to reach the stage of perfection, and that is its Zen beauty.

This recipe reinforces the Zen of risotto with green tea as the cooking liquid. I found it in a nice food blog years ago, and made it several times. It’s lighter than traditional versions, and a perfect dish for Spring!

(adapted from Cooking Books blog)

1 quart water
4 bags green tea
oil for the pan
3/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup Arborio rice
1 small shallot, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmeggiano-reggiano cheese

Bring 1 quart of water to a near boil, then pour it over 4 bags of green tea in a pot, allowing to steep for 2 minutes. Remove the bags and place the pot over low heat to keep it warm.

Blanch the peas in boiling water for one minute, then drain and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large pan or heavy-bottomed pot and sauté the shallots until they soften. Add the rice, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes, then begin adding the tea, one ladle at a time. Stir constantly until all of the tea has been absorbed by the rice and add another ladle. Continue this process, adding tea and stirring to incorporate. The rice will take at least 20 minutes to be ready, check it from time to time.

Stir in the grated cheese and peas until the cheese is melted and incorporated and the peas are warmed through. Remove the risotto from the heat, and begin adding the lemon juice, tasting, until it has a bright flavor. Then stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with a few shavings of parmiggiano over the top.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Most recipes for risotto start with some white wine and end with quite a bit of butter. You can modify this basic recipe to take it in that direction, or try this lighter version, that is still very satisfying. It is important to avoid over-brewing your tea, because green tea can quickly become bitter. I used this tea from Peet’s, a favorite of mine. The original recipe called for mint, but our mint was not growing yet, so I used parsley instead. I think fresh tarragon will be excellent too.

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