I find myself eating less and less meat these days and while by no means a vegetarian, it seems that more often I use meat as an accent or at times, a garnish – and such is the case with this winning risotto dish!
Mild Italian sausage with fennel from my fave Italian grocery store Lady York Foods combined with fresh spring peas and some local grape tomatoes, makes a delicious risotto that includes meat – but uses it as a garnish.
I love the pops of fresh green flavour that the peas give!
Add some grated Parmigiano Reggiano/parmesan cheese, top with the sausage, fresh tomato & basil!
If you’re thinking that risotto is too much work, I urge to you consider that some dishes need time, and coaxing to reach their potential. Besides, the time passes by quickly and offers time for some silent contemplation on the state of… whatever you want. The world, your life… and all the while you can be thinking about how very clever you are, especially if you’re making risotto for the first time!
For some reason I find that I make risotto only at two times of year. Spring/primavera, which must always include peas, sometimes asparagus or fava beans. In the fall, it’s gotta be squash, usually butternut. For the first time, I’m adding meat – and I think this recipe is a keeper!
As the risotto cooks, you’ll both see and feel the texture change as the starch is released from the rice, giving the required creaminess that makes risotto, risotto. Keep a low flame/heat, with it just enough to keep a simmer. If it’s cooked too fast, the rice will probably stay much too al dente, you’ll need much more stock.. and, it just might burn. Slow and steady wins this race, giving you a bowl of creamy Italian comfort. Buon appetito~
- 1 Italian sausage (I used mild with fennel, but use what you like)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 2 tablespoons finely diced white onion
- 1 cup arborio rice
- *1/4 cup dry white wine such as a Chardonnay (optional)
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups room-temperature chicken broth
- 1/4 cup shelled fresh peas
- Few red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved & seasoned with a bit of salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup & more for garnish, grated parmesan cheese
- Remove sausage from casings in small bits, and cook until crisp in a small skillet. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, warm olive oil & butter. Add onions, cooking until they start to sweat and soften but not brown, 3 - 4 minutes. Add rice and cook for about 2 minutes to coat the grains in the fat - stirring frequently.
- *If using wine, add it here and cook stirring, until most of the wine has evaporated.
- Add 1 cup broth at a time, stirring and allowing rice to absorb most of it, before adding more. Do two more additions of the broth, and keep stirring. You’ll see and feel the consistency change, as the starch releases from the rice. It should take 15 - 20 minutes total, to cook the rice to your taste, and have a consistency you like. An Italian would tell you it should move ‘like a wave’ when you jiggle the pan.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the peas. Cover and let sit for one minute.
- Gently fold in the parmesan cheese. Serve in your favourite pasta bowls, garnishing with the cooked & crumbled sausage, seasoned cherry tomato halves and some more parmesan.