Oat Risotto with Pecorino and Peasfeatured

Today’s post comes from LMS contributer Adam Carr. Adam is a recent UC Berkeley graduate and social media intern. He is anxiously counting down the days until the NBA season begins.

Risotto is one of those dishes that at first glance seems tough, but isn’t. All it takes is some time and ability to pay attention. From someone that’s been medically diagnosed with a deficit of attention, it’s not that hard. Risotto’s greatness lies in its versatility. It can be a main course or a side, and you can add ingredients to compliment dishes (I tried really hard not to make this a basketball reference, but risotto is the Scottie Pippen of dishes). The traditional grain of choice is short-grain rice (Arborio being the most common), but today’s recipe calls for steel-cut oats. It’s not technically risotto, but it’s cooked in the same way. Thus, we have Oat Risotto with Peas and Pecorino, a bastard risotto that unclogs your arteries.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with steel-cut oats, it’s just another method to process oats. The part of the oat you eat is called the “groat.” Rolled oats are groats that have been flattened by rollers while steel-cut oats are groats cut into one or two pieces by, you guessed it, a steel blade. There are two significant differences resulting from this. First, rolled oats cook faster, because they’re steamed while being processed. Second, steel-cut oats have a chewier texture, because they maintain their original consistency.

We start out the way any risotto does, with fat and aromatics. The recipe fills those roles with butter and leeks. After cooking that for a bit, add in the grains and toast them for a minute, coating them in butter. Traditionally this is where one would add in white wine and cook until it evaporates, but this recipe is far from traditional. Thus, we skip that step and move on to the notorious part of the risotto recipe, adding stock. Add one cup of heated stock, slowly stir and cook until absorbed. Repeat this step until all the stock is absorbed. The one change I made to this recipe was a return to the risotto status quo: my first stock addition contained dry vermouth (my white wine substitute). There is a balance between stirring too much and stirring too little. If you don’t stir enough your risotto will stick to the pan, stir too much and you’ll break down the grains, resulting in mush.

oat risotto with peas and pecorino

Adding cheese, peas, and green onions to the pot after cooking the oats

oat risotto with peas and pecorino

A small mountain of Pecorino Romano

Per Wikipedia, the traditional cheese to mix in at the end is Parmigiano Reggiano, but once again this recipe strays, opting for Pecorino Romano. As you can tell from my pictures, I overdid it a bit. I swear there’s something underneath that blanket of grated cheese! I was pleasantly surprised with how this turned out. It had the starchy, gooey goodness of risotto, but with a chewier grain.


Oat Risotto with Pecorino and Peas

Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 leek, white and tender green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats, such as McCann’s
  • 5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas (5 ounces), thawed
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pecorino shavings


  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter.
  2. Add the leek and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the oats and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add 1 cup of the stock and simmer over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until nearly absorbed.
  5. Continue cooking the oats, adding 1 cup of stock at a time and cooking until the liquid is nearly absorbed between additions.
  6. The risotto is done when the oats are chewy-tender and suspended in a thick sauce, about 25 minutes total.
  7. Season with salt and white pepper. Stir in the peas, scallion and 3/4 cup of the cheese and cook until the peas are heated through, about 1 minute.
  8. Transfer the risotto to bowls, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.

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This post is part of a series featuring recipes from the FOOD & WINE archive. As a FOOD & WINE Blogger Correspondent, I was chosen to do four recipes a week from FOOD & WINE. I received a subscription to FOOD & WINE for my participation.

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