Photo by Judith Hausman
“So, what do you call this,” a dinner guest recently asked me upon serving up a side of rice, ham and peas. “Un-risotto?”
You could say this dish is sort of like risotto. Peas are indeed a classic risotto ingredient, but instead of making this dish with the traditional Arborio rice, I opted to use brown rice and the standard, no fuss rice-making method: quick boil, low simmer.
I like risotto and rice dishes because they’re easy to adapt to the changing seasons. I opted to use the traditional peas for my dinner party preparation because they’re still growing here in New York, but soon the first summer squash and cherry tomatoes will be popping out, and those can be substituted in the rice just as nicely. You can also use sugar snaps and pea pods instead of the shelled peas.
The ham in this recipe offers plenty of flavor, so don’t add extra salt and make sure you use a low-sodium broth. Instead complement the dish with a light sprinkling of herbs. I used chives, but parsley is a nice substitute.
When paired with grilled salmon, like we did for this dinner, or your choice protein, this rice dish makes a filling meal. However, you can also serve it simply with a hearty grating of good Parmesan and a green salad for a quick summer meal.
Yield: 6 to 8 side servings
- 1 pound good-quality ham, diced as small as you like
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 cups reduced-salt chicken broth
- about 1 cup English peas, shelled
- 1/4 cup minced chives
- a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes
In large pot, brown ham for 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from pot and reserve.
Add broth and bring to boil. Pour in rice, and turn down to simmer. When the rice is al dente (about two-thirds cooked; time will vary according to the rice you use), mix in ham and raw peas. Continue cooking until rice is just firm.
Turn off heat and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Add chives and pepper flakes, and fluff mixture with fork.