Risotto with Lentils and Black-eyed Peas

Believed to bring good luck, these legumes are eaten on New Year's Day.

Course Appetizer, Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 servings


  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced celery or fennel
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 3 ounces thick-cut pancetta cut in small cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 1 cup cooked lentils, preferably the French/green kind* drained
  • 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas* drained
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Ground red pepper or hot sauce optional
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese plus more for the table


  1. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Heat butter and olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, pancetta and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender and pancetta has given off most fat. Stir in rice. Cook for a couple of minutes until grains are coated and smell toasty.
  2. Add broth to barely cover pan’s contents and stir well. Simmer until most liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth, stirring, until rice is just tender. Gently stir in lentils and black-eyed peas. Season to taste with salt, pepper and, if using, ground red pepper.
  3. Stir in a final dose of broth (you may not need it all) and grated cheese. Let stand, off heat, for 5 minutes.
  4. Serve in shallow bowls and pass cheese.

Recipe Notes

* I usually cook dried lentils and dried or fresh black-eyed peas, separately, adding onion, celery and carrot trimmings and bay leaves to the cooking water. Any surplus can be used for other purposes. But you could also use canned or frozen legumes.