Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home by Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner is our Top Pick in Cookbooks for April! Well-fed workers make happy workers, so before preparing delicious meals for hungry patrons, restaurant staff often partake in a "family meal." Family Table collects 150 easy, affordable "family meal" recipes, peppered with behind-the-scenes stories.

Risotto with Peas


Seasonal produce comes to restaurant kitchens in waves, redefining family meal; abundance makes the menu. This basic risotto showcases spring peas, though it can be made year-round with frozen ones. It also rewards the home cook who keeps an eye on the nutritional balance sheet. Unlike classic versions, this lighter one works without butter; traditionalists can add it at the end.

Family Table


  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas (about 1 pound unshelled) or thawed frozen peas

  • Kosher salt

  • 6 cups Chicken Stock (page 39)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1¾ cups Arborio rice

  • ¾ cup dry white wine

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh

  • Italian parsley

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)


If using fresh peas, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the boiling water, then add the peas and blanch for 3 minutes, or until tender. Immediately plunge the peas into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Bring the stock to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, then reduce the heat and keep at a bare simmer.

familytableWarm the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the rice, stir to coat, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed by the rice. Add a ladleful of the stock and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed by the rice. Continue adding stock a ladleful at a time and stirring until most of the stock has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes.

Stir in the peas, thyme, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute to warm the peas. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the grated cheese and the butter, if using, and serve.

Excerpted from Family Table, © 2013 by USHG, LLC, and Karen Stabiner. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Photo © Marcus Nilsson. Read our review of this book.

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