Spring has officially arrived and it is time for an Italian spring dish: Risi e Bisi (rice and peas). If you never heard of it and wonder which part of Italy it's from, I will tell you! It's a dish from the Veneto region of Italy and typical from Venice, Vicenza and Verona.
Before we get started, I'll help you say the name: REE-see ay BEE-see. It's so much fun to say!!
You really may be wondering it it's a risotto or if it's a soup. It's not really a risotto and it's not really a soup; I know, super confusing! Just keep in mind it's meant to be eaten with a fork, not a spoon, so that should help you when you are figuring out if the consistency is right. You do cook the rice slowly as you would cook a risotto, but it's not made in the consistency of a risotto. Obviously fresh peas are what you would strive to use for this dish. But can I tell you something, I totally did not plan on making this and I didn't go on a hunt for fresh peas in their pod. I'm thinking I'm alone in this confession, but I love peas!
I always have some frozen peas and I also have some canned (yes, if you open my cabinet, I have one can of peot a problem for us. If you aren't so fond of peas, than you could add a little less, but then it really wouldn't be a real risi e bisi!
some notes on this recipe:
So to be the sometimes frugal mom-chef that I am, I had to use up what I have for this recipe, and frozen peas is what went into this delicious dish (gasp, don't tell anyone!). According to this article in Food and Wine, the Venetians say for each grain of rice, there should be a pea. Since we are fans of peas here, that is not an issue. I also had a chunk of homemade pancetta that was used in the recipe. Our friend Aldo gave us a piece about a month or so ago and it's perfect to add a little flavor to a simple dish like this. If you do use pancetta, remember that it is salty, so check the salt before you add it. Risi e Bisi is a perfect spring dish that is too delicious to resist.
Another fabulous spring pea recipe to try.
Risi e Bisi-Rice and Peas
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1 ounce pancetta, coarsely chopped (1/4 cup)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 3/4 cups peas
- 1/2 cup risotto rice (arborio or vialone nano rice)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, additional for serving
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook over low heat until softened, about 7 minutes.
Add the pancetta and 1/2 of the parsley and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock, peas and rice and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat.
Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. If too much of the liquid has absorbed and it seems to be too dry, add additional stock.
Stir in the 1/2 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano, the butter and the rest of the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon out the rice and peas into shallow bowls and serve at once, adding additional Parmigano Reggiano as desired while serving.