It’s “eat local” season in the Lowcountry, the height of our region’s bounty of goodness from both the land and the sea. We’re currently indulging in local shrimp, crab (soft-shells came and went in a flash!) and all kinds of produce, from kale and brussels sprouts to strawberries, sweet peas, fennel, leeks and so much more. 

It doesn’t get much closer to eating local than to grow your own food in your own yard, so in honor of Lowcountry Local First’s annual “Eat Local” initiative, we’re sharing a delicious spring risotto recipe inspired by the latest magic coming out of Ted’s home garden. These are ingredients that are fresh, local and readily available at your local farmer’s market right now. 

First, a word about the recipe. We think the best way to eat local is to start with what’s available and in season – whether from your yard or from your weekly farmer’s market – and then use the magic of google to come up with the perfect recipe based on what you have on hand.

In this case, we were inspired by the abundance of sugar snap peas, leeks and fresh herbs growing in the garden, along with Ted’s housemade pancetta and classic Parmigiano-Reggiano, staples that belong in any kitchen! We found a New York Times Cooking recipe and made it our own by doubling the amount of pancetta – mixing some in with the rice, and using the rest to top the dish when serving. 

We hope you’ll think about purchasing and eating local during this season and throughout the year. Our farmers, local purveyors and local businesses depend on your support!

Risotto with Pancetta & Spring Vegetables

Ingredients:

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
1 quart chicken stock
3 large leeks, white parts only, split lengthwise, sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 3 cups)
2 garlic crushed cloves
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 ½ cups arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 3/4 cup), plus more for topping
8 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed, halved lengthwise
½ cup fresh herbs for garnish

Recipe:

  • Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat and then add the pancetta. Cook about 6-8 minutes until lightly browned, stirring occasionally to ensure browning on all sides. Transfer pancetta to a paper towel, leaving the fat in the pan.
  • Meanwhile, add stock and 1 cup of water to a separate saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and then keep stock warm on the lowest heat.
  • If needed, add some oil to the pan that you cooked the pancetta in, and add the leeks, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, over medium-high until leeks are soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the rice to the pan and stir until grains are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Then, add the wine and cook until nearly absorbed (about a minute).
  • Add a ladleful of the heated stock to the rice. The liquid should just cover the surface of the rice. Cook at a lively simmer, stirring frequently, until it’s nearly absorbed (about 2 to 3 minutes). Continue adding stock one label at a time, waiting until each addition has almost full absorbed before adding more liquid, and stirring frequently. Do this until the rice is creamy, but still al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes total. You may not need all of the liquid.
  • Stir in the butter and cheese, and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  • Stir in the snap peas and half of the pancetta. Add more of the remaining liquid if needed to get the desired consistency. The finished risotto should be creamy and just slightly soupy.
  • Divide among four pasta bowls and crumble with remaining pancetta. Garnish with fresh herbs and grated parmesan cheese.

* Recipe adapted from New York Times Cooking