Spring Pea and Mint Risotto and Lemon Tart with Blood Orange

by Darina on March 17, 2013

Spring Pea and Mint Risotto and Lemon Tart with Blood Orange

Today was one of those days where I was hopeful that this year we’ll actually have a spring. We’ve had a few beautiful days in March, breaking up some of the seemingly endless rain and wind. Even when the air is brisk, if the sun is out I feel it in my body, with that zing of energy and motivation to do things besides curl up in bed with a cup of tea and some unintelligent reading. Like cooking. Cooking with ingredients that are slowly coming into season.

I love that. I love a change of season more than any one season itself. When the leaves turn colour and the air becomes cool while the sun still hangs in the sky. Or when the crocuses start poking out of the ground as the day grows longer, bringing it with the anticipation I will soon shed my winter coat for a light trench, followed by just a cardigan thrown over my shoulders.

And I love it when the cooking magazines come out with recipes for creative salads and breezy cocktails, and I can put away the stews until autumn, when I can get excited about them all over again. When I spied the cover of Donna Hay’s Issue 65 with a delectable looking Spring Pea and Mint Risotto, I thought, “I must make that”. Never mind that I don’t like peas. Or at least, I thought I didn’t- until I made the risotto. I then realized it’s not peas that I dislike, it’s overcooked ones. Here you defrost some frozen peas and toss them into the risotto once it’s cooked. You also make a paste out of mint and olive oil and blend it through the cooked rice, a cool little trick that I would never have thought of. I’ve tried doing this with spinach for this recipe as well, and it gives the risotto an extra something something, and looks extra pretty–especially once it’s garnished with some sugar snap peas, snow pea tendrils, and a dollop of creme fraiche. It’s spring on a plate.

Donna Hay’s Spring Pea and Mint Risotto

Serves 4


2 cups mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
75g unsalted butter, chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup (80ml) dry white wine
2 cups (400g) arborio rice
1 1/2 litres hot chicken stock
1/2 cup (40g) frozen peas, thawed
200g sugar snap peas, trimmed, blanched, halved
sea salt and cracked black pepper
creme fraiche and snow pea tendrils, to serve


1) Place the mint and salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until a rough paste forms. Add the oil, stir to combine and set aside.
2) Melt 25g butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the wine and cook off for 2 minutes; add the rice and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes.
3) Add the stock, I cup (250ml) at a time, adding more once absorbed, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is cooked al dente.
4) Remove from heat and stir through the remaining butter, Parmesan, peas, sugar snap peas, mint mixture, salt and pepper. Divide between plates and top with creme fraiche and snow pea tendrils. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Lemon Tarts with Blood Orange

lemon.tart.march I’ve been working on a series of photographs of blood oranges as a theme for an assignment. I’ve decided I like this way of shooting; one star ingredient like on Top Chef. It gets the creative juice flowing. I originally devised this recipe for a blood orange sauce and have since been using it in all manner of dessert. It’s lovely on honey or pound cake, served with rice pudding, and of course, with anything chocolatey. For these shots I got some lemon tarts from Gourmet Warehouse, where they carry some of my favourite French foods, including croissants imported from Paris, duck confit, even foie gras. I also particularly like the lemon tarts from Whole Foods.

The new direction of this blog is meant to include more photography, so going forward I’m not always going to have a recipe, but I am including a one for a fantastic lemon tart from Anne Willan, from one of my favourite cookbooks, The Country Cooking of France, in case you feel inclined to make your own. These days my tart making is limited to pulling out the all butter frozen puff pastry from aforementioned Gourmet Warehouse, but it’s a fantastic recipe if you’ve got the time.
blood.oranges.march (2)

Tarte Au Citron 

from The Country Cooking of France

for the crust:

1 1/2 cups/185g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup/75g sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons/90g butter, plus more for pan

lemon filling:

3/4 cup/12 g whole blanched almonds
3/4 cup/15 g granulated sugar
3 eggs
grated zest of two lemons
1/4 cup/60ml fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup/140g butter, melted

confectioner’s (icing) sugar, for sprinkling

10-inch/25-cm tart pan with removable base


1) To make the crust, sift the flour onto a work surface and make a well in the centre. Put the salt, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the well. Pound the butter with a rolling pin to soften it; add it to the other ingredients in the well and work with the fingers of one hand until thoroughly mixed and sugar is partly dissolved. Using a pastry scraper, gradually draw in the flour from the sides of the well, then work the dough into a ball; the dough will be uneven and unblended at this point. Wrap and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
2) Roll out the dough to medium thickness and line the tart pan as follows; brush the pan with melted butter. Fold the dough loosely around the rolling pin, lift, and unroll it over the pan, being careful not to stretch it. Gently lift the edges and press the dough well into the corners of the pan using a small ball of excess dough dipped in water. Roll the pin across the top of the pan to cut off excess dough. With your fingers, press the dough evenly up the sides of the pan to increase the height of the shell. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill for 30 minutes.
3) Heat the oven to 375F/190C and set a baking sheet on a low shelf to heat. Bake the tart shell blind on the hot baking sheet and then let it cool, leaving the baking sheet in the oven and the oven on.
4) For the filling, pulse the almonds with 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor until finely ground. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and remaining sugar until light and thick enough to leave a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, juice, and butter. Stir in the almond mixture with a spoon.
5) Set the tart shell on the hot baking sheet in the oven, and pour in the filling. Bake until set and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool, then unfold the tart onto a platter. Serve at room temperature, sprinkling with confectioner’s sugar.


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

m March 19, 2013 at 7:31 am

seems very strange that no where in the recipe does it mention blood oranges, but the photos and title are do?!

Stephanie March 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I love the change in seasons too. Love it so much that I can’t imagine living somewhere that was just hot all the time.. nothing is better than tossing aside roasted veggie and stew recipes in favor of bbqing and interesting salads.. and then tossing those aside as soon as it cools down again in favor of stews. That risotto looks so fresh and springy, especially the way that you’ve photographed it.

Darina March 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm

If you read the post there is a link to a blood orange sauce I did in the previous post, which I used on the lemon tarts.

Julia | JuliasAlbum.com March 26, 2013 at 12:05 am

Spring peas look so pretty opened up on top of risotto! Gorgeous! And blood orange lemon tart – what a beauty! lemon and orange flavors go really well together.

Darina March 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Thanks so much for stopping by :)

Daniela @ FoodrecipesHQ June 9, 2013 at 5:54 am

I love this Spring Pea and Mint Risotto, triumph of springtime in a plate!

Samantha Deleon July 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm

This basic, rustic crostata approach — thinly sliced fruit, some sugar, some butter and a flaky dough — is something you can use with any fruit, any time you want a quick and pretty dessert. (We’ve used this previously with the Simplest Apple Tart .) But really, it’s the perfect way to use blood oranges; nothing will better show off their pretty hues.

Darina July 11, 2013 at 9:15 pm

I’ve thought of trying a crostata with blood oranges :) So pretty.

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