This creamy Parmesan risotto with peas recipe is a modern take on the classic Italian method. Instead of arborio rice (a starchy short-grain rice that is traditionally used), you’ll use pearl barley. Cooked in Parmesan broth and finished with a hefty serving of Parmesan, this pea risotto is comfort food made elegant. Plus, there are two servings of peas—both fresh English peas and pea tendrils on top. You’ll use ½ cup of white wine in the recipe, so why not pick out an extra nice bottle to serve alongside this pea risotto? It’s worthy of company or date night.
1½ cups (8 oz.) shelled fresh English peas (from 1½ lb. peas in the pod)
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for boiling peas
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Cook peas in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to ice water to cool; drain.
Bring broth, 2½ cups water, Parmesan rind, and bay leaf to a simmer in a large pot. Keep warm over low heat.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add barley and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 30 seconds.
Stir 1 cup warm broth into barley and cook, stirring, until liquid is nearly absorbed, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking, adding ½ cup warm broth at a time, stirring until liquid is nearly absorbed after each addition, until barley is tender, about 40 minutes. (You should have ½ cup broth remaining.) Remove Parmesan rind and bay leaf. Stir in peas, pepper, 1 cup grated Parmesan, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
Cook, stirring, until peas are tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ½ cup broth. Top with pea shoots and remaining ½ cup Parmesan. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
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