Welcome to Vital Choice at Home!
This series features me, Michelle – a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains – my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood and lots of regular home cooking.
I want to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.
Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?
Prawn and Pea Shoot Risotto
Grilled prawns top a delectable spring risotto
by Michelle Lee
Each week we pick up a box of fresh veggies from our local organic farm as part of our farm share membership.
My favorite aspect of the farm share is that it challenges us to eat things we otherwise wouldn't choose at the market.
So, I'll be pairing vegetables from our weekly organic farm share with gorgeous Vital Choice seafood – a match made in culinary heaven!
This week's box included one ingredient I just wasn't sure what to do with – organic pea shoots.
Also known as pea tendrils, pea shoots are the crisp, fresh new growth from a pea plant. The tender young shoots are very sweet, and were delicious just as a quick snack by themselves.
Pea shoots, widely available in the spring, are also very nutritious and are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid.
The beauty of seasonal risotto
Risotto is one of my very favorite dishes to make, because it provides a creamy and flavorful "blank” canvas for whatever's in season, and it's a perfect one-dish meal with some added protein, generally from the grill.
For this dish, I made a basic risotto (my recipe is below), then added pea shoots, lemon juice and lemon zest in the last two minutes before serving, then topped with grilled lemon-marinated spot prawns.
Risotto is simple to make – the basic elements are Arborio rice, onion, broth and a bit of white wine.
While it requires 20-30 minutes of stirring, the creamy-yet-dairy-free results are absolutely worth the time at the stove!
Working with spot prawns (plus a simple marinade)
This dish was ideal with marinated spot prawns
– they were fairly simple to prepare, grilled in just minutes, and the bright lemon flavor was wonderful with the pea shoot risotto.
A few key notes: I have never worked with prawns before, and after thawing them and preparing them to de-shell, I looked down and was surprised to see tiny paper cuts on both thumbs. So, please be careful – the uncooked shells can be sharp!
That said, removing the shell was incredibly simple – simply snip from the base toward the tail end with sharp shears, gently pry the flesh out of the shell and devein if you like (many of the prawns I cooked didn't need to be deveined).
You can leave the tails on for presentation purposes or remove them as you remove the shell – your choice.
Once the shells were removed, I tossed them gently in a bowl with the juice of one lemon, a bit of extra virgin olive oil
, one minced garlic clove, salt and pepper.
I let the shrimp sit in the marinade for about 20 minutes as I prepared the risotto and pre-heated the grill.
Once the risotto was done, I skewered the prawns and grilled on medium-high on an oiled grate for about three minutes, until just pink, turning just once to char both sides lightly.
They were still very tender off the grill, with a lovely lemony-yet-smoky flavor that was a delightful complement to the freshness of the pea shoots and the creaminess of the risotto.
My basic risotto recipe
Risotto is an ideal canvas for seasonal produce – simply add prepped vegetables and flavorings at the end.
Tender vegetables (such as greens, peas or asparagus tips) will cook completely in the finished risotto.
More robust vegetables (such as broccoli or kale) might need to be quickly parboiled or steamed before being added, based on your preference.
I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. If you do, please send me a note
and let me know how you modified it and how it was!
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup white wine
1 yellow onion, diced
1½ cups Arborio rice (about 10 ounces)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- To start the risotto, bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low; keep warm.
- Heat oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add rice and stir 2 minutes. Add half of the wine; reduce heat to medium low.
- Simmer lightly until wine is absorbed, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add remaining wine and simmer until absorbed, stirring constantly, another minute or two.
- Add ½ cup of hot broth; simmer until broth is absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue adding broth ½ cup at a time until rice is tender but still slightly firm in center and mixture is creamy, simmering until broth is absorbed before each addition and stirring often, about 20 minutes. Tip: If you draw your spoon across the bottom of the pan and can see the "trail” for a second or so before it's covered by rice, then it's time to add more broth.
- Add optional ingredients and Parmesan cheese if desired and stir. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
For this recipe, I added about 2 cups of roughly chopped fresh pea shoots, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, then topped with spot prawns
fresh from the grill.
My rating: 4 out of 4 stars
Like you, I have a passion for beautiful-yet-healthy food that's easy to prepare.
While I do love making the occasional "fancy” dinner, most of the time I'm short on time and have a house full of hungry people who want to eat NOW.
I'm not a professional chef – I'm just a busy mom who loves to cook and who's focused on that intersection of healthy and delicious.
I want this series to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.
Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?