Risi e Bisi with Pea Shoot Pesto


  • 200 g peas in the pod (or 80g podded peas, fresh or frozen).
  • carrot, thinly sliced.
  • spring onions, trimmed and sliced (trimmings saved).
  • bay leaf.
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns.
  • a few parsley stalks (optional).
  • 10 g butter.
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil.
  • 1 clove garlic.
  • 100 g arborio rice.
  • 25 g Parmesan, Berkswell or hard goat’s cheese, finely grated.

For the pesto

  • 70 g pine nuts.
  • 60 g pea shoots.
  • 1/2 small garlic clove, chopped.
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced.
  • 120-150 ml extra virgin olive oil.
  • 25 g Parmesan, Berkswell or hard goat’s cheese, finely grated.
  • sea salt.
  • black pepper.

To finish

  • 50 g mild, soft goat’s or ewe’s cheese.
  • extra virgin olive oil.


1. Start with the pesto: toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over a medium-low heat until lightly coloured. Transfer to a plate and leave to cool completely.

2. Put the pea shoots and garlic into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (or roughly chop, then pound with a pestle and mortar). Add the pine nuts, lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Process briefly then, with the motor running (or stirring, if using a pestle and mortar), slowly pour in the extra virgin oil until the pesto is the texture you like – you may not need all of it. Stir in the cheese (and a trickle more oil if needed), then taste and add a little more salt, pepper and lemon juice as needed.

3. Pod the peas and set them aside. Roughly chop the pods and put them in a pan with the carrot, spring onion trimmings, bay leaf, peppercorns and parsley stalks, if using. Pour on 750ml water, bring to a simmer and cook for 25–30 minutes. Strain, return to the pan and keep hot over a very low heat.

4. Heat a medium pan over a medium heat and add the butter and oil. When bubbling, add the spring onions and cook, stirring regularly, for 3–4 minutes. Add the garlic and rice and cook for a further minute.

5. Now add one-third of the hot pea stock and stir well. Bring back to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock is absorbed. Add another third and repeat, stirring regularly. Add the remaining stock along with the peas, and cook for 3–4 minutes or until the rice and peas are just tender, and the risotto has a loose consistency, almost like a soup. Take off the heat and stir in the grated cheese and some salt and pepper.

6. Spoon the risotto into warm bowls and top with crumbled cheese and a generous spoonful of pesto. Finish with a few more fresh pea shoots if you have them.