My Zesty Pea Risotto is creamy and bright with the perfect balance of zingy lemon and fresh parsley. This is my go-to summer risotto recipe because it’s SO good. And, it’s not one of those stand and stir your life away kind of risottos, it’s a bung it in the oven, or the instant pot and let it cook itself kind of risottos. And I don’t know what it is about this one, but I find cooking it so calming and eating it so comforting. If you like to unwind while you make dinner, this is the perfect weeknight meal to help you do that.
The lemon and parsley in this risotto, although both subtle, really sing summer. And I have to put my cards on the table and say it IS a little on the indulgent side. We will be adding cream and a fair amount of parmesan. But this dish cannot be made any other way or you’d just be sacrificing the silky creaminess that makes this risotto the bowl of lemony love that it is.
I add no wine to this risotto so young children and even weaning babies can enjoy it too (with a couple tweaks to the cook). See how to adapt this recipe for your family here.
How to Cook My Zesty Pea Risotto
Watch me make this Zesty Pea Risotto step-by-step here, before or as you cook.
If you aren’t vegetarian you can choose whether to use chicken stock or vegetable. As we aren’t vegetarian, I like to use chicken stock as I think it adds a slightly richer flavour.
I’ve used cider vinegar in this risotto instead of any other type because it is fruity, tart and sweet all at the same time and it’s less acidic than other vinegars. If you want to use white wine vinegar instead, use just 1 teaspoon and add a pinch of white sugar.
I have used Petit Pois peas as I just prefer them in risotto. Also, Petit Pois are a better size for weaning babies and toddlers. You can of course sub for regular garden peas (see Baby & Toddler section below if you are eating with a little one).
When you come to zest your lemon, I have a handy trick for you! Most lemons you find in the supermarket will be coated in wax to preserve the peel and keep them looking fresh. It’s best to de-wax any citrus fruit before you zest them, and there is an easy way to do it. Just add the lemons to a sieve or colander and pour boiling water over them for a few seconds. Then immediately scrub with paper towel or a clean dishcloth until they look dry. You’ll notice their peel now looks a little duller.
Eat More Sustainably
This meat-free risotto definitely won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing meat, which makes it a great recipe to add to your dinner rotation for even non-vegetarians.
Kids Cook Too
Younger children can get involved by helping measure out ingredients and adding them to the pan (carefully!). You can add a little uncooked risotto rice to an empty bottle or container, making a shaker, to keep babies and toddlers entertained while you cook.
Feed a Crowd
This recipe can be doubled, so long as your casserole dish / dutch-oven or Instant Pot can accomodate it.
Storing My Zesty Pea Risotto
Because of the rice, cool leftovers down quickly and refrigerate or freeze as soon as they are cool enough. You can store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up 24 hours. You can also freeze them, just defrost for 24 hours in the fridge and make sure you reheat until the risotto is piping hot. Before microwaving, add in a little stock, water or milk before you microwave so it doesn’t dry out, and be sure to stir halfway through.
For more on safe food storage and reheating read here >
My Zesty Pea Risotto is vegetarian, gluten, egg and nut free.
Adapting My Zesty Pea Risotto For Your Family
Here, I recommend how to tweak this recipe if you are eating with a baby or toddler and I’ll also give a tip for serving to a fussy eater.
Keeping Picky Eaters Happy
If your fussy eater has never had risotto before, or last time they did they didn’t like it, you might be apprehensive about trying this recipe out. What I would recommend with any new risotto or pasta dishes you are worried about, is to try serving garlic bread or crusty bread also as a side. Often, picky eaters will eat more of a meal they aren’t sure about or don’t like if they have another option they do like alongside it. It can also give you some leverage, you can restrict the amount of bread they have, and only allow them to have more if they eat more of their meal first.
See more from me on fussy eaters here >
Making it Baby & Toddler Friendly
Just a few tweaks here so little one can share my Zesty Pea Risotto with you. Use low-salt stock and hold back on adding the salt to the cook. Then at the end, you can remove little one’s serving or servings (if freezing leftovers) and add salt to the pot after and stir in well. Alternatively, add salt to your plate. We are using Petit Pois peas which are very small and won’t be a choking hazard. If you can’t buy Petit Pois peas where you are and have to use regular peas, then for younger babies you can smash the peas in their serving down with the back of a fork to flatten.
How to Serve my Zesty Pea Risotto to Babies & Toddlers
Serve as is. Baby will be able to grab handfuls of this sticky rice no problem.
You can whizz this into a purée, using a stick blender pot or food chopper (if you have that one that purées). Add warm boiled water to loosen as it will be quite thick and sticky.
7 months +
Serve the risotto as is, adding more low-salt stock to loosen more for younger babies.
I’ve also added these notes to the bottom of the recipe so you have them to hand when you come to cook.
For more info on how I keep my family meals baby & toddler friendly, read here >
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ZESTY PEA RISOTTO
- Grater & chopping board
- Garlic press
- Mezzaluna or knife
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 15 g salted butter
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 350 g Arborio risotto rice rinsed
- 1 ltr hot vegetable or chicken stock see note 1 if using Instant Pot
- 1 lemon zested
- ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar see note 2
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 100 ml double cream (heavy whipping cream US)
- 150 g frozen petit pois peas or regular garden peas
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 60 g parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 180ºc/160ºc fan/350ºf/gas 4. Heat the oil and butter in a casserole pot or dutch oven, over a low heat. Add the onions and fry for 6 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for 1 more minute. Increase the heat to medium and add in the risotto rice. Fry for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Then add in the stock, lemon zest, vinegar, salt & pepper and stir well. Turn off the heat and add in the cream. Stir through well. Cover and transfer to the oven for 12 minutes.
- Then add in the peas and parsley and stir through well. Return to the oven, covered, for 5 minutes. When done, stir through the parmesan.
INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS
- Pre-heat the inner pot, select Saute - normal and add the oil and butter. When starting to bubble, add the onion and fry for 3 minutes. Then add garlic and fry for a further minute. Add in the risotto rice and fry for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Add in the stock, lemon zest, vinegar and seasoning and stir well, deglazing the bottom of the pan as you go (scraping off stuck on food with a wooden spoon). Add in the cream and stir through well. Put the lid on, close and turn the steam release handle to Sealing. Pressure cook on high for 6 minutes.
- Once done, release the pressure quick venting. Then add in the peas and parsley and stir in well. Select Saute - normal and leave to bubble for 3-4 minutes. Turn the Instant Pot off and stir in the parmesan.
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