Sometimes the best things are the things you make up as you go along. And some things photograph poorly but are actually delicious. This is one of those things. We had planned to have a “date night in” with dinner and a movie, and I wanted to make something different and special for the hubster. I started by making a risotto and then decided to fry it in bits to get a crispy edge. Hubby is all about texture so I wanted to make sure the dish had a crunchy element.
Next I grabbed a bag of frozen peas and dressed them up with pesto and other veggies and greens. I topped the twice cooked risotto with a bit of marinara sauce. The red sauce and the pesto worked perfectly together, and the crunchy risotto worked well with the cooked peas. We were both so excited about how it turned out and were desperate for seconds!
1 cup arborio rice
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 yellow bell pepper
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 jar artichokes, drained and chopped
2 Tbsp pesto (or more, to taste)
1/4 marinara sauce, for topping
Warm veggie stock in small saucepan. Cook onion and garlic over medium high heat in a deep skillet. Once softened and slightly brown, add 1 cup risotto rice and stir until rice becomes semi-translucent. Start adding warm veggie stock, 1/2 cup at a time and stir until absorbed completely. Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is thick and starchy and the stock is all gone. Put the risotto in a bowl and refrigerate until room temperature.
Next, place olive oil and chopped yellow pepper in a large skillet and cook on medium heat until pepper is slightly soft. Add frozen peas and chopped artichokes to the pan and cover, stirring occasionally. Once peas are defrosted, add spinach and cover again for another 1-2 minutes. Once spinach is wilted, add pesto and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat to low and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes while flavors meld together.
Once the risotto has come to room temperature, Place 2 Tbsp vegetable oil in the bottom of a large skillet and swirl to coat the bottom. Place over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, place packed spoonfuls of risotto in the pan and allow to brown for 1-2 minutes. Carefully turn over the spoonfuls and brown the other side. It might get a bit messy but that’s okay. The random crunchy bits are so good that it’s worth it. Continue until all of the risotto has crispy sides. Serve over pesto peas and top with warm marinara sauce.