Happy Sunday to you all! Let me tell you...I had the most amazing weekend! For one thing, Thursday was my birthday! I was overwhelmed by all the messages, phone calls, cards and well wishes I received, as well as flowers sent to my office by some good friends of mine. In the evening, my husband Luis took me out to a nice Lebanese restaurant for dinner and gave me a lovely gift consisting of a really nice cookbook called Mes recettes de chef pour tous les jours and a four-hour cooking class, which I can take at a long list of cooking schools in Paris. I can't wait!!! Friday was a great day as well. For one thing, the amazing jazz legend Herbie Hancock was appointed as one of our Goodwill Ambassadors and delighted us all with an incredible performance and an eloquent speech about the power of music, and jazz specifically, to bring people together. At the reception that followed, Luis and I met both Mr. Hancock and bass maestro Marcus Miller and got autographs and photos with both. Then we met up with a big group of friends for a birthday dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant in Paris, the Blue Elephant, followed by dancing at an African club. Saturday afternoon, we hit Saravana Bhavan so that I could get my Indian fix.
It was a most wonderful birthday weekend and it got me thinking about how international and multicultural our lives are. Nowhere is this more evident in how we cook and eat. I mean think about it...Lebanese, Thai, African and Indian all in one weekend? Yep, that's pretty typical for us! Coming to this afternoon, I knew that nothing would round it out and hit the spot better than a good Italian risotto.
Being the risotto lover that I am, I will never stop singing the praises of the smooth, comforting creaminess of the classic Italian rice dish. I'm also always looking for new and interesting ways to prepare it...as the sky is the limit to all of the possibilities. Today I was thinking about the classic combination of peas and mint and the perpetual success of my minty pea soup and decided to try these same flavors in a nice Sunday afternoon risotto. Luis claimed that mint would be awful in a risotto, but guess what...he was totally wrong (and he admitted it hehehe!). The fresh zing of the mint and the sweetness of the peas provided the perfect contrast to the rich creaminess of the risotto. Absolutely delicious! This is one to repeat, that's for sure.
PEA AND MINT RISOTTO
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 liters (3 cups) vegetable broth, warmed
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, slightly thawed
1/2 tablespoon butter
Fresh mint, chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent.
2. Add the arborio rice and stir well. Pour in the wine and stir continuously until the alcohol evaporates, about a couple of minutes.
3. Gradually add the vegetable broth a little at a time, stirring continously and letting the rice absorb the liquid after each addition. The entire process should take about 20-25 minutes.
4. Just as the rice is finishing up, add in the peas and stir well. Finish the risotto off with the butter, stirring well.
5. Top each serving with a generous spoonful of fresh mint, parmesan and freshly ground pepper.