Nigella’s pea risotto

pea puree

I love Nigella. I love her lard and butter and bread and that she has given me permission to grate nutmeg into everything and weld a Marsala bottle to my hand to swig from and splash with as I see fit. Oh Nigella, where have you been?

I have How To Eat out from the library at the moment. I know … but we are a one income family at the moment, so if I am going to indulge it’s limited to three week periods. Testing cookbooks by borrowing them before you buy is a great way to ensure you don’t end up with shelves full of duds, though only having this one for a short time just makes me want it more.

There are many great things about this pea risotto recipe. Firstly, the pea puree is possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. Velvety, nutmegy, cheesy heaven. I am officially gagging for my son to get to the puree foods stage now that I have discovered this. This boy and his mum may live on pea puree.

Secondly, it works when you cheat. Nigella does the whole hot stock one ladle at a time thing, which is commendable and I’m sure gives you a much better result. I whack all the stock in at once. Cold. From the packet, then bring it to the boil, pop the lid on, turn the heat down low and take my bottle of Marsala (well, beer actually) out to stand next to the barbecue and talk to my husband while he cooks the steak.

Two things to remember, which I didn’t. Make sure you turn the heat down and let your pan cook between cooking the peas and frying the onion. I didn’t and so browned the onion. Instead of keeping the brilliant green of the pea puree, everything got a little muddy looking. I’m sure Nigella wouldn’t mind. Also, the drop of oil with the butter when you add the onions is important. Somehow it stops the butter from burning/browning – anyone know why?


60g butter
150g frozen peas
1 litre stock
grated nutmeg
2 tbspn grated Parmesan
1 small onion
drop of oil (this is important, it stops the butter burning)
200g arborio rice
80ml white wine or vermouth

Melt 1/3 of the butter and add the frozen peas. Cook for 2 minutes until defrosted then remove 1/2 the peas and add a ladle of stock to the remaining peas. Pop on the lid and boil for 5 minutes until soft. Puree this with 1 tbspn of parmesan, 1 tbspn butter and a grating of pepper and nutmeg.

Try not to eat all of the puree while you make the risotto.

Turn the heat down and melt the remaining butter and that very important drop of oil. Add your onion, finely chopped, and cook 1 minute. Don’t let it brown. Add the rice and stir to coat, then you can either  do it the hard way, adding a ladle at a time and stirring each time until all the stock is absorbed, or dump all the stock in, bring it to the boil, turn the heat down very low and pop the lid on.

Either way, after 10 minutes add the reserved peas and at about 15-20 minutes beat in the pea puree and the extra tbspn of parmesan.

Serve with well rested steaks.

Nigella Lawson’s pea risotto with steak


About Louise

Melbourne based journalist/interactive producer who loves to cook .. and eat.
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8 Responses to Nigella’s pea risotto

  1. veggielove says:

    Butter has a lower “smoking point” temperature (the temperature at which it burns and sends up smoke) than oil. When you add a bit of oil, it raises the smoking point temperature, so you can make everything hotter without losing the taste of the butter. (The smoking point still won’t be quite as high as if you just used oil.)

  2. veggielove says:

    Oh, and if you wanted the “scientific” explanation, it’s because saturated fats like butter chemically speaking are bound to more hydrogen, which is super-flammable, than unsaturated fats like oils.

  3. BHAKTHI says:


  4. Melissa says:

    When do you add the wine/vermouth?

  5. Yum Yum, I serve mine with crispy skin salmon fillets. I do find tht the ratio of water to rice is a little much though. I tried substuting sake for wine tonight, as I had no white wine, it made the risotto sweeter than usual, but still super yummy.

  6. citidog says:

    Every risotto has a basic sequence and should be cooked in 20 mins, no less no more.
    Sauté the garlic/onion/leeks/eshallots/chives in oil
    Add rice
    Deglaze with red/white wine/sherry/shao hsing/sake/any spirit/liquerer
    Start adding stock 1 ladle at a time
    At around 1 ladle of stock left – 17 mins approx add main flavourings
    At 20 mins remove from heat and stir through butter/cheese/cream.

    Get creative – risotto is limited only by a lack of imagination. Make it Mediterranean, make it with chocolate, make it Chinese, make it yours.

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