3 pounds English peas
2 quarts water
2 shallots, peeled and halved
½ cup sliced carrots
½ cup sliced fennel
1 cup mint sprigs
1 bay leaf
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup carnaroli rice, Acquerello brand preferred
¾ cup white wine
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Fresh lemon juice
1 cup pea shoots, for garnish
¼ cup pea flowers, for garnish
½ cup mixed fresh chervil, mint and tarragon, for garnish
1. Shuck the peas, reserving the peas and pods. Rinse the pods under cold water and place in a large saucepan. Add the water, shallots, carrots, fennel, mint and bay. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and cover the pan with plastic wrap. Let stand for 40 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan. Discard the solids.
2. Heat the pea stock over medium heat. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. When the stock is boiling, add the reserved peas and cook for 1 minute, just until tender. With a sieve or spider, transfer the peas to the ice bath to stop the cooking and set the brilliant green color. Once cool, drain and transfer to a bowl. Keep the stock on the burner over low heat.
3. Put a quarter of the blanched peas into a blender, reserving the remaining whole peas. Add a small amount of pea stock to the blender, just enough to make the blending easier, and blend until smooth. Transfer the pea puree to a bowl and set aside.
4. In a 1-quart sauce pan over medium-low heat, add 2 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter is melted, add the rice and toast gently, stirring, for about 4 minutes, until the rice is evenly coated with butter and is evenly toasted. Add the white wine and cook until all the wine has evaporated.
5. Set a timer for 16 minutes. Add a ladleful of the warm pea stock to the rice, enough to just cover. Cook, stirring, until the stock has been fully absorbed, then add another ladleful of stock. Continue this process, adding more stock as needed. When the risotto has cooked for 15 minutes, taste it; the rice should be cooked through but not mushy. If the rice is not done, cook it a minute or two longer.
6. When the rice is done, turn off the heat and let rest for 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup of the pea puree, the Parmigiano, the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the reserved (whole, blanched) English peas. Stir vigorously and taste. Season to taste with a little salt and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
7. Divide the risotto among 4 warmed plates and garnish each serving with some of the pea flowers, shoots and herbs. Serve immediately.