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Rose Risotto with Crab and Snap Peas

Serves 4, or 6 as a starter

This delicate dish is rosy not by virtue of its colour but from the hint of rose water that brings all the ingredients together into a luxurious celebration of springtime. It’s important to use a subtle hand when deploying rose water, as its perfumy presence can be surprisingly assertive, overpowering other mild-tasting foods rather than quietly enhancing their sweetness. If you grow your own unsprayed roses, a few petals strewn on top would be a pretty garnish for a romantic evening.


  • Sugar Snap Peas 8 oz, strings removed, cut into 1/2 in pieces
  • Unsalted Butter 2 Tbs
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 1 Tbs
  • Shallot 1 large, minced
  • Short-Grain Rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli, 1 cup
  • Dry White Wine 1/3 cup
  • Fine Sea Salt 1 1/2 tsp
  • Chicken Stock 3½ cups or more as needed, preferably low-sodium, heated
  • Rose Water 1 to 1 1/2 tsp
  • Zest and Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Jumbo Lump Crabmeat 8 oz
  • Fresh Rose Petals or Snipped Chives for garnish

Cook It

  1. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the snap peas and cook until just barely tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking, then set aside.
  2. In a deep skillet, melt 1 Tbs of the butter together with the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook just until softened, about 3 minutes. Do not allow the shallot to brown.
  3. Add the rice to the skillet and stir to coat the grains with the fat. Toast over medium-high heat until the grains appear opaque, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the wine. Cook and stir until the wine is completely absorbed, then add the salt and 1 cup of the hot stock. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low so the mixture bubbles briskly. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the stock has been absorbed by the rice. Add another ½ cup of stock and continue to cook and stir for another 15 minutes or so, adding more of the stock every time the mixture starts to look dry, and stirring now and then. Cook only until the rice is al dente, with a tiny, uncooked center in each grain.
  4. Add the rose water, ½ cup of the remaining stock, and the remaining 1 Tbs of butter and stir for 1 to 2 more minutes to make a very loose, saucy mixture. Stir in the snap peas and the lemon zest and juice, then add the crab and stir very gently to incorporate. Cook until heated through, adding a little more stock if the risotto is too thick. Serve immediately, garnished with the petals or chives.
Reprinted from Flavors of the Sun by Christine Sahadi Whelan with permission by Chronicle Books, 2021.