Risotto with Pancetta and Peas

I've pretended as long as I can that Summer isn't actually ending -- making tomato cobbler and watermelon salad enjoying my gelato as if nothing were amiss -- but the truth my friends is that Fall has officially arrived. It is time to tuck away the grill, say bye to the basil and tomatoes, and start reevaluating your recipe rotation in preparation for the new season. Since you probably don't want to think about this just yet -- indeed, Summer has only just ended! -- I've decided to start thinking about it for you (you're welcome) which brings us to today's recipe. 

Risotto for me is synonymous with coziness, pure comfort food that is exactly what I want to have for dinner once the temperatures drop. Before I continue however -- if you're like most people I know, you're probably not quite convinced you should make this, perfect Fall dish or not. I've found that risotto has a bad reputation, labeled "difficult" and "time consuming." While it does require a bit of stirring and a patience, everything is cooked together in one pan, and is actually quite easy to throw together, not much more difficult than a dish of pasta. It is a great (and impressive, for your friends that still think it's tough to make) dish to have in you repertoire, whether it be for a weeknight dinner or a dinner party.

This risotto that I'm sharing today is made with pancetta and peas, a side dish that my mom often made when I was growing up. Pancetta and peas are great by themselves (nothing like a little pork to make a green vegetable better) but I figured they would be even more delicious when stirred into creamy cheesy rice, and I was right. This is probably the risotto I make most often -- the peas here add freshness and color, and is complimented nicely by the salty rich pancetta. If however pancetta and peas is not your thing, not to fear -- risotto is extremely versatile. The rice acts as a blank canvas for all different ingredients and flavor combinations, just as pasta does. Feel free to use this risotto as your base recipe, and substitute any ingredients you would like. I've also made butternut squash risotto, risotto with sausage and spinach, risotto with saffron, and risotto with mushrooms...the options are endless. Enjoy everyone!


6–8 cups chicken broth
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 ounces pancetta, finally chopped
1 1/2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup peas (frozen is fine)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for serving 


Put the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring it to a simmer over low heat.

Next, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook until they are softened and translucent. Add the pancetta and sauté until crisp. Stir in the rice and let it toast for a few minutes in the pan. Add the white wine and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often (this will only take 2–3 minutes).

Begin to add the broth to the rice: add 1 cup of hot broth and simmer over medium-low heat until it is absorbed (about 5 minutes) stirring often. Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by the cup and stirring often. This will take about 30–40 minutes. Mix in the peas and stir until they are heated throughout. Then add the parmesan, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately* with extra parmesan cheese on the side. This recipe makes enough for 4-6 people. Enjoy!

*Note that risotto is a dish best eaten right away. It does not take well to reheating and isn’t nearly as good cold. Leftover risotto, if there is any, is great for making suppli’ though!


  1. I love risotto too. It makes the end of summer easier, knowing all the possible rice and veggie combinations that are possible in autumn (pumpkin, mushroom, spinach, fennel, the list goes on really...)

  2. Buongiorno Rosemarie! Me too! Looking forward to making butternut squash and pancetta risotto next (also on this site) :D