Winter “Spring” Risotto

Hey, what’s this business about? Well, it’s a risotto that oozes spring (well, at least a little) while only relying on ingredients perfectly available this time of the year (a.k.a. winter). Having a bag of frozen green peas on hand can be a gold mine when time is limited, when vegetables are lacking on the plate or when you feel a little sick and tired of cabbage and root veggies (it happens to us too). They cook in literally no time at all, pack tons of nutrients, cost close to nothing, love growing in Sweden/places where it’s cold… it’s a winner any day of the week. When added to a risotto, they even feel quite fancy and sophisticated. Personally, we feel like peas don’t have nearly as good of reputation as they should – but we’re here to change that.

This isn’t a traditional risotto, though. Nah, we’ve opted out of the rice, and instead replaced it with our favorite grain: wheat berries. We just can’t get enough of these chewy, nutritious, cold-climate loving little buddies! Only, Mike’s dad, Tony, just informed us that wheat berries bought in America take forever to cook, and aren’t even remotely done when our recipes claim they will be. Some googling later, and we’ve come to the conclusion that what we buy here (called matvete in Swedish), is really called “pearled wheat” in the US. These grains have had some (but not all) of the bran (kli in Swedish) removed, which makes for a shorter cooking time and a more tender end product. When thinking back, we can both recall cooking wheat berries (that is, actual wheat berries) for up to an hour when living in New York, so this really seems an appropriate clarification.

But back to the dish in question – pearled wheat, peas, vegetable bouillon, some grated cheese and a few sprigs of pea shoots. That’s it. The latter we grow on a little tray on our window sill, and the tall-reaching, bright green shoots aren’t minding the foot of snow and freezing temperatures on the other side of the pane of glass one bit. All in all, this ‘risotto’ is a winter season winner, despite the lack of hardy vegetables. Filling, nutritious, climate-friendly – and with a hint of spring, even. Oh, and it’s pretty good for athletes, too. Check out the nutritional information below the instructions, if you’re interested 🙂 That’s all – hope you’ll like it!

För recept på svenska, klicka här: Vinterrisotto med vårkänsla

4 small servings or 2 big

1 1/2 l of water
2 tbsp bouillon powder (or two cubes)
125 g onion, chopped (equals 1 medium)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
280 g (4 dl) pearled wheat (or wheat berries, but keep in mind cooking time will be longer – see intro text)
230 g (5 dl) frozen peas
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
60 g (2 dl) grated cheese
Black pepper
Optional: pea shoots for garnish

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and bouillon and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. This broth will be slowly added to the risotto as it cooks, so keep it hot but not simmering.
  2. In a large saucepan or enameled dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and salt, and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the pearled wheat and cook for a minute or two. Then, add in 4 dl of the broth, and reduce heat to medium-low. You want the liquid in the pot to maintain a slight simmer. Stir frequently.
  4. After the liquid is almost completely absorbed, add in 1.5 dl of broth. Keep going like this, adding more broth to the pot as needed. Keep stirring every now and then to avoid sticking.
  5. When there is 1.5 dl of broth left (this should take about 30-40 minutes), stir in the frozen peas and the last of the broth. Once the liquid is absorbed and the peas are heated through, remove from the heat.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and cheese, and season with black pepper. Garnish with pea shoots if desired. Serve immediately.

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