Orzo “Risotto” with Frozen Peas

You absolutely did read it right!  Frozen peas!

For reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, peas take to freezing and they’re one of the very few foods that can be as good frozen as fresh. Perhaps it’s only a matter or perception and that because fresh peas have such a short and precarious season we very rarely taste them perfectly fresh, and so have no real standards by which to judge the frozen variety.  Or perhaps there really is something in their water content and/or molecular structure that suits them to the process.

In any case, even the best and most celebrated chefs in the world seem to accept frozen peas, and that’s good enough for me.

You’ll need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
½ cup orzo
¼ cup white wine
1 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
¼ cup grated Parmigiano Regiano
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Begin as you would with a traditional risotto by heating the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sautéing the shallots until soft.  Stir in the orzo and cook until lightly browned.  Add the wine and simmer until the wine has evaporated.  Add the stock and simmer for about another 8 minutes.  Add the peas and continue cooking until the orzo has absorbed the broth.  Stir in the cheese, lemon zest, and parsley.  Season to taste.

John’s Wine Pairing:
I decided against a wine pairing and here shoot for Political Incorrectness instead.

Enviros will slam me but here’s another great thing about frozen peas: fish love them!  So take a baggie with you when you’re diving and the fish will eat right out of your hand.  (As far as I know, sharks have no hankering for them – though I suppose the pea-eating fish might attract them, which makes for an interesting food chain.  Just be sure you’re not part of it). 

One final note about frozen peas: Goggle ‘Orson Wells and Frozen Peas’ and you’ll never again accuse a chef of being temperamental …