Spring Risotto with White Asparagus, Snow Peas

One of the things I find interesting, funny and fun living here are the differences in words between English and American and French.

There are a lot of words in common, but pronounced differently and there are words that look and sound the same but mean something totally different.

What we (Americans) call snow peas the Brit’s call mangetout.

The word is taken from the French mange-tout, which means ‘eat it all’.

But the French don’t call them mangetout – the French word for snow peas is pois gourmand.

Whatever one calls them, they are another of my favorite spring vegetables.

Spring Risotto with White Asparagus, Snow Peas

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 2/3 cup (4.2oz, 125gr) Arborio rice (or other rice specifically for risotto – Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) dry, white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups (18oz, 540ml) chicken stock
  • 1.2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) Parmesan cheese – freshly grated
  • Condimenti:
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 6oz (180gr) white asparagus, trimmed, peeled, cut into 1″ (2.5cm) lengths
  • 4oz (120gr) snow peas, trimmed, cut in half or thirds
  • 6oz (180gr) ham, cut into cubes
  • 2oz (60gr) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Spring Risotto with White Asparagus


  • Heat chicken stock and keep hot over low heat.
  • In medium sauce pan heat 2 tsp olive oil.
  • Add onions, rice and sauté, stirring, for 2 – 3 minutes until rice has white center.
  • Add white wine and stir.
  • Start condimenti. 
  • When wine is almost absorbed add a 1/3 cup of stock and stir.  (No need to stir constantly but do stir from time to time.) 
  • When stock is almost absorbed add another 1/3 cup and continue adding 1/3 cup at a time and stirring.
  • Before the last 1/3 cup is added taste a few kernels of rice.  They should be just ‘al dente’ – slightly resistant to the tooth but fully cooked.  If more stock is needed add it a tbs at a time and waiting until almost completely absorbed. At this point risotto will be thick but not stiff – there will still be visible liquid and it will not hold it’s shape on a plate.
  • Add the Parmesan and condimenti, stir well, spoon into a bowl or risotto platter and serve immediately.
  • It will continue to absorb liquid and the leftovers (if any) will be quite stiff.
  • Condimenti:
  • Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet.
  • Add onion and sauté until tender.
  • Add asparagus and sauté 3 – 4 minutes
  • Add snow peas, ham and sauté another 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  • Add cherry tomatoes and stir gently just before adding to risotto

Print Recipe

Today was a phone day.

I hate phone days.

I got the notice in the post the other day that it was time for my mammogram.

As long as I was doing that I decided I might as well get the other things taken care….

It was also time for the dentist and the periodic skin check by the dermatologist.

I’m actually getting quite comfortable with calling for appointments. I know what I’m asking for – un rendez-vous, and I can (usually) understand the person who answers when they give me a choice of days and times.

I’ve even figured out how to clarify between 12:00 and 2:00 which, when they don’t use military time, sound very similar, to me.

But now I have a new problem.

It’s not always a human answering the phone….. Sometimes it’s a prerecorded message.

When I talk to a person they can tell right off I’m not a native French speaker and (usually) try to accommodate me by speaking a tiny bit more slowly.

Prerecorded messages don’t do that. And, apparently, people are told that when one records a message one should speak more rapidly than usual….. And use more words.

I listened to a message 5 times today, hanging up and calling back to listen again, before I realized that the message was basically ‘please hold’.

How can it take 18 sentences to say ‘please hold’???

I stopped hanging up and made the appointment,


The other two were easier.

In case your wondering why I didn’t assume it was ‘please hold’ the message will often give new hours or a new phone number or vacation dates or info about having moved or even a retirement notice.

5 thoughts on “Spring Risotto with White Asparagus, Snow Peas”

  1. Katie your risotto looks scrumptious. We do not have snow peas in season yet…can’t wait! We have had lots of fresh asparagus though – another spring favorite.

  2. I have a similar problem – I go into a spin when there is a recorded message in French or worse still if it is in Arabic !!

  3. I never buy fresh peas of any sort so I was very interested by your lexcial analysis (although I’m not sure I’ll keep it straight.)

    I have to get back to making risotto! Your recipes for it always look so scrumptious.

    I have started a Feedly feed now so will be getting your posts more frequently. I used to have Google Reader and had just set up a Blogger feed, but it is not half as nice as Feedly and also, I for some reason wasn’t able to get your blog on it.

    Bon dimanche!

  4. I love asparagus risotto! And asparagus has just now come into season (we’ll be heading to the farmers’ market later today to get some).

    Have you tried using the discarded asparagus stalks? When we make asparagus risotto, we purée the UNcooked stalks with a little water and then stir in that sludge at the last minute. (Here’s exactly what we do: etherwork.net/blog/use-all-of-the-asparagus-for-asparagus-risotto/)

    But we’ve never thought to add snowpeas! Although, with the very late spring we’ve had, I doubt that snowpeas will be at the market….

    Ha! I love that the French call them pois gourmands. it’s somewhat like “Canadian bacon” in the USA. Here in Canada, we’ve always call that kind of bacon “back bacon”. I’ve also heard it called “peameal bacon” – but peameal bacon isn’t smoked and apparently must be cooked before being eaten…. I don’t know what back bacon is called in Quebec. So I did a search and it appears that back bacon is called “bacon de dos”. Phooey. I’d hoped the Quebecois would have a completely different name! (something like “lardons plats”)

  5. Ina, thanks – spring comes a bit earlier here…. thankfully.

    Kate, I don’t know why they talk so much faster on the recording LOL

    Betty, I switched to Old Reader, which works the same as the old Google reader for me. I don’t buy fresh peas eithe (I get frozen) but I do like the snow peas when I can find them.

    Elizabeth, what an interesting idea for the stalks – I bet it adds lots of good asparagus flavor. I’ll try that next time – if we find asparagus again this season…. It’s so fleeting

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