Sunday, April 17, 2011

English Pea and Asparagus Couscous Risotto

In the Bay Area there is a distinct flavor of spring in the air. The hills are still that vibrant green. The air is a touch warmer. The trees are in full bloom along with pollen everywhere. Many varieties of flowers are beginning to show their rich and lively colors. I just adore this time of year.

Not quite ready to take the cover off the stainless BBQ grill or put the cushions on the outdoor furniture, but I just know that it is around the corner. The excitement is building. I completely enjoy having a glass of wine outside after work with my hubby while sharing the happenings of our day.

Both English Peas and Asparagus sing spring to me. Their noticeable green hues are vibrant, beautiful and distinctly welcome the new season. Typically I find English peas are the farmers market and load a bag full of these sweet little nuggets. I was fortunate enough to find them pre-shelled at Trader Joes – what a treat.

There is a new grocery store on the rise – has it come to your town yet? The new store is called – Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market. They are popping up all over the Bay Area. We had the grand opening about a month ago. I was not able the official grand opening, but my hubby and I stopped by a couple weeks ago.

They are owned by Tesco, the world’s third largest retailer based out of the United Kingdom. The openings in the United States are scheduled for California, Nevada and Arizona. It struck me as a hybrid of Trader Joes, Safeway and Whole Foods. I picked up a bag of Israeli Couscous along with a few other items that looked interesting.

The English peas were my inspiration along with a post by Lisa is Cooking. If you have not had the opportunity to check out Lisa's blog, I would encourage you to.  Full of great recipes and photos. This dish just celebrates the season and can be done with a variety of veggies. Enjoy!

English Pea and Asparagus Couscous Risotto

2 Leeks, cleaned, quartered, green removed and sliced thin
3 T. Olive oil
2 T. Butter
Salt and pepper
1 ½ C. Israeli Couscous
2 C. Dry white wine
2 C. Asparagus, sliced
2 C. English peas, shelled
3 to 4 C. Chicken stock
Parmesan cheese
Micro-greens for garnish

Serves four

In a large skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil on medium. Add the leeks and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the couscous and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add one cup of the white wine until absorbed, then add the second one. Let cook until about half way absorbed. Add one cup at a time, the chicken stock until absorbed and the couscous is al dente. Then season with salt and pepper to taste and zest a half a lemon and stir.

Add the English peas and asparagus about 5 minutes before serving along with about ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Taste and add more parmesan cheese if desired. Serve either in a large bowl or individually. Garnish with micro-greens on top and zest a bit more lemon on top. Add a touch of parmesan cheese if desired.


  1. I have never seen a more fresher looking spring post just beautifully done!

  2. These veggies look so good with Israeli couscous! I wish I could find fresh peas already shelled. Even in the shell, they're not easy to find here. Thanks so much for the mention. You're too kind!

  3. Gorgeous shots, Lisa! This recipe sings spring, for certain. We've already dusted enjoyed some grilled lunches on the patio, and I am absolutely loving this time of year. Just so vibrant and green! Thanks for reminding me about the Fresh & Easy. I wish I could have gone to the opening, too, but can't wait to check it out soon.

  4. Lovely refreshing recipe, great color too

  5. Just had a pea risotto at Charlie Palmer's and yours looks even more inviting with all the different textures going on! I've been wanting to buy some fresh English peas and will definitely be checking the TJ's near me. Fresh & Easy came to SoCal about 2 years ago, but there's not one close to me so I"ve only been in one to check it out. Hope you have a sunny week :)

  6. That is such a great dish! Wonderfully original, green, spring-like and appetizing.



  7. This is a gorgeous spring risotto!

  8. Lisa, we were on the same wavelength. I can't even remember the last time I made couscous at home but I prepared it this weekend. I recycled the leftovers in a recipe that I'll post later this week. Yours looks wonderful--it's got asparagus, my favorite veggie! What a great idea to make risotto out of couscous and those peas--the entire dish is so fresh and green! :-)

  9. Lisa, you pulled out an amazing recipe for Israeli cous-cous. I usually have the "normal" Mediterranean cous-cous but you just inspired me to get the Israeli one (which I love) and try it in this spring version. Lovely.


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