Italian Rice & Peas

Italian arborio rice, noted for a creamy texture when cooked, creates a meal of great comfort and economy. The key to cooking Italian arborio rice is quite simple. A technique of adding measured amounts of hot broth, cooking and stirring until the broth is absorbed, then continuing to add measured amounts of broth until the rice is cooked al dente, produces a creamy bowl of rice, right on cue.

Serves 4

4 cups hot chicken broth (two 14.5 ounce cans)
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons onion, minced
3/4 cup Italian arborio rice
10 whole medium basil leaves
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen English peas
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra Parmesan for serving
Extra-virgin olive oil for serving

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until each grain is coated. Stir in the basil leaves and 3/4 cup of the hot broth and stir over a medium heat, about 3-5 minutes until the broth evaporates.

Add 3/4 cup broth and stir, again, about 3-5 minutes until the broth evaporates.

Stir in peas and 3/4 cup broth, stirring until the broth is absorbed. Add the final 3/4 cup of broth, stir and test the rice by tasting. Use additional broth as need until the rice is al dente (cooked but still slightly firm to the bite).

Remove from the heat. Add the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese; stir. Plate, seasoning to taste with freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

COOK'S NOTES: Italian Arborio rice is now available in most supermarkets, cooking stores and local Italian markets. I have added pine nuts for added richness, but don't worry if you don't have any one hand.