Earlier this week, I attended Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation – Princeton, a benefit to held eliminate childhood hunger. Since 1992, Taste of the Nation has granted more than $743,000 to needy people in the Princeton area. This year’s event raised funds for Mercer Street Friends, Food Bank of South Jersey, HomeFront Inc. and Isles, Inc.
Ticket holders got a chance to sample food and drink from a host of local restaurants, caterers, and markets. One of the dishes was a pea risotto which I recreated at home. The recipe is at the end of this post.
Here is a sampling of the evening’s offerings:
Assortment of goodies from McCaffrey’s supermarket in Princeton; chefs from New Brunswick’s Due Mari making pea risotto; Enoterra in Princeton presented sweet potato puree with Scottish Salmon ceviche
From Emily’s cafe in Pennington – a trio of crostini – broccoli rape pesto, rosemary and white bean with candied bacon, and smoked salmon; and polenta cake with bacon balsamic chutney and risotto cake
From Griggstown Quail Farm in Griggstown; smoked pheasant with mesclun salad and hard-boiled pheasant eggs; a basketful of pheasant and quail eggs
There were plenty more offerings of food to choose from – too numerous to display here. But we had plenty to drink too. Beer, wine and the hard stuff – lots more to choose from than the pictures show.
I saw a lot of familiar faces including Dorothy Mullen, who helps kids in the Princeton School System create their own thriving gardens on the school grounds.
A special thanks to Christo from ChezWhat? for giving me the opportunity to attend the event.
Now for the pea risotto step by step:
Start by cooking peas in chicken broth for a couple of minutes – the same broth you will use to cook the risotto.
Drain the peas and put half of them, along with some chicken broth into the blender and puree.
Saute some minced shallots in butter and olive oil:
Add the pea puree (I also added pea shoots, which you can totally skip. They wilted immediately and disappeared into the risotto)
Test the rice for doneness. It should be fully cooked, but not mushy. Turn off the heat, and mix in 1 T. butter and the parmesan cheese.
Add another sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a bit of chopped chives and enjoy:
Makes enough for six people
2 cups frozen or fresh peas
hot chicken broth, homemade is best but canned is fine – about 4 or 5 cups
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup chopped shallots
3 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
dash of white pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 T. butter
Cook the peas in the chicken broth for about two minutes. Remove and set aside one cup of the peas. With the other one cup, put them in a blender with about 3/4 cup broth and puree. Keep the rest of the broth warm on the range.
Heat the olive oil and 1 T. butter in a heavy pan and add the shallots. Sauté until limp, do not brown. Add the rice and swirl it around a couple of minutes. Add the white pepper and wine and stir, then add a ladle at a time of chicken broth, stirring all the while. Continue to cook about 15 minutes, adding more broth each time to keep the rice from getting dry. Add the peas and cook another five minutes. Add the pea puree and stir. If you like your risotto a bit soupy, stop here. If you cook it too much longer, it can overcook and get too mushy. Turn off the heat and add one T. butter and the parmesan cheese. Serve with chopped chives and more parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.