June 13, 2012



I recently bought this book, “Gorgeous greens”  from the local book discount shop.  Having become a fan of Annie Bell – I already have her books “Gorgeous cakes” and “Gorgeous desserts” - £2.99 didn’t seem like too much to gamble on another of her books !!


It had it in a pile of books by my bedside  and I picked it out at random to browse through the other night when I was waiting for a text from Nick to confirm he had arrived safely in America for his current work assignment.  Hmm, maybe I could use it for the next Random Recipes Challenge, what ever that might be, thought I.

randomrecipes This month the challenge is to cook the recipe in the middle of the book, in other words exactly half way through including the introduction and the acknowledgments.  That would put me on page 97 where there is a recipe for “Venetian peas and rice”.


I happened to have all the ingredients in stock, except for the fresh parsley.  There were some shelled peas left over in the fridge after my father had enthusiastically worked his way through shelling several bags that I bought in an offer in the supermarket.  Marigold stock powder is something I always keep in the cupboard for when vegetable stock is required .  So on the way home from work I nipped into Sainsbury’s for a bag of flat leaf parsley and looked forward to a tasty meal for one. greens3 I was not disappointed.  The peas lost their bright green colour by the end of the cooking time and I half expected them to be like little bullets – I would not normally boil fresh garden peas for 15 minutes – but they were still sweet, tender and delicious.

greens5The recipe was for four portions so I cooked half the quantity.  I was not sure whether it should be a side dish, starter or light meal as it appears in the section entitled “gorgeous grains” but it seemed like it would be an improvement on the hotchpotch of random dinners I usually cook for myself when I am on my own.

It took very little effort to make and the combined flavours of the peas, parsley and parmesan were lovely.  The rice was perfectly cooked.  I had considered adding some bits of  fried bacon but in the end I was glad I didn’t – the fresh taste of the dish would have been spoiled.

Half quantities are definitely worth doing again as an easy meal for one or lunch for two if you added some chunks of bread.

Here’s my version of pea risotto (full quantities) :


50g butter

1 small onion

275g shelled fresh garden peas

200g Arborio risotto rice

150ml dry white wine

1 litre vegetable stock, made with 4tsp Marigold bouillon powder

70g grated Parmesan cheese

4 tblsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley


Chop the onion and cook with the butter in a large saucepan until it softens and begins to colour.

Add the peas and rice and stir together.  Cook for two minutes then add the stock and wine along with a good grind of salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in the Parmesan and most of the parsley.

Divide into soup or pasta bowls and serve immediately with the rest of the parsley scattered on top.

Serves 4.


  1. This would be my idea of food hell - peas and parsley! I do like Annie Bell's books thought - I've got her 'gorgeous cakes' which is delightful.

    1. Baking addict, you must be one of the few people on the planet who don't like peas !!

    2. Actually I've encountered a surprising number of people who don't like peas. I suspect it's a childhood thing of not liking the way you have to chase them around the plate sometimes. And there are certainly plenty of people who will only eat supermarket frozen peas (I live with one). Anyway, I hope to try this recipe for myself with my lovely homegrowns. I will make it Touraine style, with épautre.

    3. Strange one that Susan, Simon only eating frozen peas perhaps you are not cooking the fresh ones correctly!!!

    4. Susan, that reminds me of a poem:

      I eat my peas with honey,
      I've done it all my life,
      It makes the peas taste funny,
      But it keeps them on the knife !

    5. C&E, frozen peas are definitely easier to get right than fresh ones. I always remember what a friend told me about tinned peas when she worked at the pea factory in Leeds - they were incredibly fresh - 24 hours from plant to tin. We probably leave our peas on the plants for too long - being too lazy to pick them all before they become the classic school dinner bullets !!

      Mind you, my friend worked with a team of other students on the inspection line. Once the peas were shelled she and her mates had the job of picking out any foreign bodies, animal or otherwise, as they travelled along the conveyor to the canning dept. She told me that she was at the end of the line and if she didn't get the caterpillars, they went in the tin !!

    6. This is the first year we've had really good garden peas. Previously it's got dry enough to send them mealy. He likes all sorts of dried beans though, so I don't know what the problem is. Just one of his many picky eating habits.

  2. Oh yes this is food heaven for me. Pea risotto is probably one of my all time favourite meals. Love the way the peas add a wonderful sweetness to the dish You won't believe this but I was leafing thru this exact book today at my friends house and admiring the pics and recipes so I know how good it is!! Thanks so much for entering this month. Always lovely to have you play along! Xxx

  3. Well I love peas and the rice and peas combo can't be beat for me. I always make something similar to this with the first freshly picked peas of the year (usually from the PYO). That's the perfect lunch for me. I don't know what I'd do without Marigold bouillon powder - I think it must be my most essential kitchen ingredient after salt and pepper (and maybe chocolate).

  4. This is a perfect dish for me too! I love the combined flavours of peas and rice and we've plenty of flat leaved parsley in the garden. I look forward to trying it out. Thanks, Jean!

  5. I like pea risotto. Peas just combine so well with rice. Classic and delicious.

  6. I am happy to report that this works well with the quick cook wheat that we can get here in France and that the non-risotto eater in the household, who loves wheat and barley, went back for seconds. Only use half to 3 quarters of the liquid if you make it with wheat.

  7. I adore risotto, so this dish popped right off Dom's round-up at me! Great job! Side or main? I think I'd make this as a main ... and gobble the second portion with no guilt! Looks fab!

  8. I love risotto and this one looks delicious. Thanks for sharing.