Post sponsored by La Crema. See below for more details.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my cooking for pearl couscous. Is it the healthiest choice? Not by a long shot. Is it delicious? Yes, yes it is. This small pasta cooks quick, soaks up every flavor, and has a lovely texture. I can’t get enough which is why when I saw the idea for couscous risotto, I tucked the idea away.
I love riffs on risotto. Sure, it’s not traditional but these alternative risottos tend to be a little more fun and in the case of this couscous risotto, faster. I love the earthiness of the wheat couscous paired with the pops of sweet peas. It’s all brought together with a glass of La Crema Pinot Gris that hints at a lightness of lemon.Print
A beautiful spring dinner, this couscous risotto is a riff on the traditional risotto. The dish uses fresh peas lightly sautéed in butter and paired with basil and mascarpone cheese.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cups shelled sweet peas
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium shallot (minced)
- 1 cup whole wheat pearl couscous
- ⅓ cup white wine
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- Salt (to taste)
- ¼ cup mascarpone cheese
- 3 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- Parmesan (for topping)
- Chili flakes (for topping- if desired)
- Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the butter, followed by the peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peas have softened and turn bright green. Add salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Return pan to the stove top over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil followed by the minced shallot. Stir in the couscous and toast for a minute or so. Measure in wine. Cook until most of the wine is gone, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 15 minutes or so. The couscous should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed. When there’s a small amount of liquid left, reduce the heat to low and add the mascarpone cheese, basil, and cooked peas.
- Remove from heat and stir until the mascarpone cheese has melted. Divide into four bowls and top with extra basil and grated (vegetarian-friendly) parmesan.
Tips & Tricks: If you’re short on time or peas are not in season, this is a meal that would work well with frozen peas.
Looking to leave the wine out of the dish? Just add more broth or water.
Nutrition: see the information.
- Calories: 336
- Sugar: 5.9
- Sodium: 217
- Fat: 10.6
- Carbohydrates: 47.6
- Fiber: 6.4
- Protein: 10.8
- Cholesterol: 23.3
What I love most about risottos is how varied they can be. Sure, it’s a loose take on the traditional risotto but the end result is just as delicious. I love mixing up the the base, the cheese, the vegetables, and the flavorings. It’s really an solid meal to use whatever you might have on hand.
Pesto: Instead of using fresh basil, stir in a few tablespoons of pesto before serving. This would also work with an alternative pesto like spinach or kale pesto.
Greens: Towards the end of cooking, stir in spinach or kale and let wilt.
Grains: The combination of peas/mascarpone/basil would work well with any of the other types of grain risottos. I really love spelt and farro risottos.
Vegan: Drop the cheese and use a similar technique to this quinoa risotto.
Ever since my college years, I’ve preferred the crispness of white wine over reds. It feels a bit easier to pair with vegetarian food, especially during the summer months. I try not to play favorites but the Pinot Gris is my favorite from La Crema’s Monterrey line (although, they just launched the Rosé which may become my summer staple). A few more meals that go well with this Pinot include:
Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with La Crema. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week.