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Shrimp, Peas, and Saffron Risotto

Serves: Makes 4 servings


  • 1 pound medium shrimp in the shell
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 leafy sprig basil, plus 4 leaves
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus boiling water if needed
  • 1 teaspoon lightly packed saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1½ cups Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, or Arborio rice
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Peel the shrimp and reserve the shells. Devein the shrimp, if necessary, then chop coarsely and refrigerate until needed.

  2. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the shrimp shells, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the shells turn dark red. Add the garlic and cook, stirring over low heat, for 1 minute. Add the wine and basil sprig, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring with a flat-edged wooden spatula, for 5 minutes, or until the wine is reduced by half.

  3. Place a strainer over a bowl and add the shrimp mixture. Press down hard with the back of a large spoon to extract flavor from the shells. Discard the shells and add the shrimp broth to a 3-quart saucepan.

  4. Add the chicken broth to the shrimp broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to the lowest setting, stir in the saffron, cover, and keep hot.

  5. In a risotto pan, 8-quart Dutch oven, or 5-quart sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-low heat until the butter has melted. Add the onion and sauté, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the rice, decrease the heat to low, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until it is evenly coated with the oil and butter and heated through.

  6. Using a large ladle, add about 1 cup of hot broth to the rice and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the broth is almost fully absorbed. Add the remaining broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and adding more broth only after the previous addition has been absorbed, until the rice begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Adjust the heat so the rice simmers rapidly throughout the cooking. Add the reserved shrimp and the peas during the last 10 minutes of cooking, and use as much of the hot broth as the rice will absorb. Or, use boiling water if you have used up all of the broth. The total cooking time will be 20 to 30 minutes. The risotto is done when it is creamy and the grains are plump and tender with a slight resistance to the bite, not when the timer says it is. Season to taste with salt. Remove from the heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and stir constantly until fully blended. Taste and add the remaining lemon juice, if needed.

  7. Remove the risotto from the heat and let stand for 3 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, stack the basil leaves, roll up lengthwise into a tight tube, and thinly slice crosswise to make a chiffonade. Spoon the risotto into warmed shallow bowls. Sprinkle an equal amount of the basil on top of each bowl and serve.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing

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