I hesitated over what to name this recipe. Since it’s made with the traditional bomba rice used to make the classic Spanish paella, and like a good paella, the broth is essential, I debated over that first … Then I dithered over risotto, since it has the characteristic flavours of a good hearty vegetarian risotto. It’s neither.
What this dish is, is full of goodness. Creamy yet firm rice, slightly sweet peas, buttery asparagus and smokey cheddar, brought together by lemon pepper – it’s a light dish, filling but effortless and perfect for springs and summers.
Truth is, it lacks the almost gloppy texture of a risotto. And it lacks the saffron spice of a good paella. But in my opinion, the pure ease of this dish makes it great for when you don’t want hearty heaviness – it’s comfortable with not being a paella or a risotto, and just being a bowl of tasty freshness.
Smoked cheddar cheese is a great alternative for parmesan (which often isn’t vegetarian), but more than that, it brings something new to the table with a dainty smoked scent. When the rice has been ladled on the plate piping hot, it just melts over the asparagus, creating a delicious seasoning and matching perfectly with my lemon pepper, which offsets the saltness.
Petit Pois & Asparagus with Bomba rice & Lemon pepper
Classic risotto flavours made with bomba rice for a firmer finish.
- 125g bomba rice
- 1 bunch of asparagus
- 80g peas
- 1 shallot
- Olive Oil/Butter
- 4 thinly sliced pieces of smoked cheddar, plus more to grate (garnish)
- Lemon pepper (garnish)
- Start by preparing the asparagus. Separate the ‘tips’ from the stalks, keeping them aside. Now cut the stalks into circular pieces roughly the same size as your peas.
- Boil the asparagus in a small frying pan on high heat. This should take about 3 minutes, or until they are soft but still with a bit of crunch. Drain well, but keep the cooking liquids – this will become your stock.
- In another small saucepan, gently fry some peeled and cut shallot until transparent, adding peas and a minute or so later, the cooking broth from the asparagus.
- When peas are cooked, add a splash more water and add your rice to begin boiling. Stir to throughly until cooked, about 10-15 mins.
- Take asparagus tips and sauté lightly in butter/olive oil for a minute.
- Drain the rice, peas and onions, and plate with a sprinkling of salt and asparagus tips over the top.
- Garnish with smoked cheese strips, lemon pepper, and grated cheese.