Spring Risotto with Pea Coulis

Dining in Napa Valley is an experience like nothing else. Every restaurant, even the small mom-and-pop sandwich shops, feature local, gourmet food paired with incredible wine. It’s a vacation for your senses, a place we try to escape to often.

One of the best things about living in Northern California is the abundance of weekend getaway opportunities. Yosemite,  San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and Wine Country are all within a 2 hour drive; it’s tempting to explore a new area every other weekend.

I spent the 4th in the Yountville/Napa/St. Helena area, visiting my childhood best friend and her family. Along with some of the best company I could have asked for, we also ate an incredible amount of delicious food and top-notch wine.spring risotto

We ended the weekend at Hurley’s, a elegant but casual spot in downtown Yountville. While I didn’t order this dish, I wish I did the moment it came out. Piled high with pea shoot salad, filled with spring vegetables, this risotto was one of the best things I saw/tasted all weekend.

Is it any surprise I re-created it the very next day?

Don’t be intimidated by risotto or the list of ingredients. They layer together perfectly and make for a pretty, colorful feast.


Spring Risotto with Pea Coulis and Pea Shoot Salad

2 tbsp. Earth Balance Butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 small yellow squashes, chopped
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
1 cup spring peas, shelled or thawed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups vegetable broth
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 tbsp. nutritional yest
1/8 tsp. sweet paprika
salt/pepper to taste

Pea Coulis:
In a food processor, mix together:
2 cup peas, fresh or thawed
2 clove garlics
1 tsp. fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. white wine vinegar

Pea Shoot Salad:Toss together:
1/2 cup pea shoots, torn into pieces
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 /4 tsp. white balsamic vinegar

In a dutch oven or large stock pot, heat the olive oil and earth balance butter. Add the leeks, pinch salt/pepper and cook 10 minutes until soft. Add in the minced garlic, diced carrots, red pepper and chopped squash. Stir often, cooking until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable broth in a separate pot.

Add the red pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and another pinch salt/pepper to the pot with vegetables. Once soft, remove vegetables from pot.

In the empty pot, add another 1-2 tsp. of olive oil if no liquid left. Add in arborio rice, stirring often until the rice is golden brown and slightly toasted. Add 1/4 cup of vegetable broth to the pot and stir until no more broth remains. Continue to do this until you have added 1 1/2 cups of broth.

Add the asparagus. Stir until slightly softened. Add a 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, stirring until absorbed, and another. Continue to add the broth, 1/4-1/2 cup at a time until rice is al dente. Watch the rice carefully, you might not use all the broth.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes, peas, and nutritional yeast.  Add back in removed vegetables. Cook until combined.

Stir in 1/2 cup of the pea coulis. Season to taste with salt/pepper as needed.

To serve: dish out the risotto, top with a dollop of pea coulis and 1/4 of the pea shoot salad.

*We like our food a little spicy, taste as you go and see if you need to add more/less cayenne or crushed red pepper.