Worlds collide series: Risotto, Costco organic brown rice meets WholeFoods fresh peas

This post is long time in the making, an experiment...Years ago if you told me I would be taken by brown rice or risotto I would doubt that very much. Today I am courageous enough to incorporate those two in my never ending pursuit of healthy living and greening our lives. Although born and raised in Israel, our daily diet was, if not purely, then mostly Indian. I guess I know one or two things about rice but never taken by the brown kernels until some were scattered on the wooden plank at the Costco warehouse. You can tell from looking at the pictures why I couldn't resist and taken hostage by these beautiful grains, and healthy is just the extra bonus along the way. Fresh peas should appear in the farmers markets any day now. I have not seen them yet at farmer markets although I know season has begun. I got mine at Whole Foods. Keep in mind the smaller the peas the sweeter and more delicate they are, they tend to get bitter when large. Sort the smalls and mediums separate from the large. It is usually recommended to use Arborio rice for a risotto due to the high content of starch in the grain but any short grain should work well. The original recipe that inspired me recently used Farro which is a very popular grain in Israel. I am using a short grain organic brown rice and with my own interpretation of many recipes I've seen over the years. The brown rice will take longer to cook and will need more liquid than the average risotto. I also do not like the risotto floating in cream so I am using only the stock and the wine for moisture and add parmesan and possibly pecorino to the risotto

Organic brown rice risotto with fresh peas

1 1/2 cups organic short grain brown rice
1 medium onion, diced
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup white wine (good quality), room temperature
Cup of fresh peas
4 1/2-5 cups vegetable stock (*see note below), warm temperature
1/2 teaspoon plus salt to tasteFresh black pepper
1/2 Parmesan cheese (or combination parmesan and pecorino), grated
Chopped parsley for garnish, optional
Wooden spoon or excellent rubber spatula only
Heavy pot (Le Creuset and such)

Directions: On low/medium heat saute onions in oil until translucent. Add rice and saute for few minutes longer while mixing, salt pepper. Add a cup of wine to rice and mix occasionally, until wine is absorved. Add vegetables stock 1/2 cup at the time and let absorb while mixing occasionally. When adding the last 1/2 cup of water add the peas and keep mixing until all liquid is absorbed. Take off the heat and add cheese. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. About 40 minutes plus cooking time. The brown rice stays al dente and nutty in flavor. If you add too much parmesan it will mask the nuttiness but the texture will definitely remain nutty and chewy.

Important note about Risotto:
For Classic use:
Chicken stock with parmesan (optional cream)
For Kosher use:
Chicken stock with vegan cheese
For Kosher and Vegetarian use:
Vegetable stock with parmesan cheese
For Vegan use:
Vegetable stock with vegan cheese

Gluten Free!!

Note on peas: The small/medium delicate sweet peas use for cooking, the large ones use for sprouting pea shoots , excellent for salads and stir fry.

Verdict on Risotto: I can understand the oohs and ahhs over risotto, although I sense it's somewhat trend driven. It's labor intensive, it's satisfying to see when the grain puffs so perfectly with every 1/2 cup liquid added and the constant stirring.  If I had to eat one again, I would make my own but still not a fan!!

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