Risi e Bisi
(Rice and Peas)
Risi e Bisi (rice and peas) is a classic Venetian spring dish. In the past it was prepared only on the feast days decreed by the Doge (Venice’s ruler).
One can of course now prepare Risi e Bisi at any time although the dish really shines with fresh spring peas. It’s been some time since I last shelled peas – there is something rather soothing about it – although quite a few didn’t quite make it into the dish – its so very easy to pop them into your mouth – they are quite lovely fresh…
Risi e Bisi is actually a variant of Risotto, although technically a soup and should be served with a spoon, not a fork. It is so thick and rich that it does indeed look like a risotto. However unlike risotto, where constant stirring is required there is only minimal stirring so far less labour intensive!
It is a simple dish with only a few ingredients – but the end result is delish!
What you will need:
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 6 – 8 cups vegetable stock
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 4 cups fresh peas or thawed frozen peas
- 1/4 cup flat leaf (continental) parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Nutritiional yeast, for topping
What to do:
In a medium saucepan, place the stock and bring to a gentle simmer.
In a large, heavy pot or fry pan heat oil over medium heat
Add leeks and cook until just softened; about five minutes (remove and set aside a few tablespoons of the leeks for topping if desired). Add garlic and rice, toss until rice is nicely coated, about 3 minutes.
Add in warm stock, one cup at a time, the stock should be bubbly. Stir often allowing the stock to be just absorbed. Add in another cup of stock, repeat.
Add in peas, more stock and continue the process for another 15 minutes or so, or until the rice is al dente, tender but chewy.
The whole process should be about 25 – 30 minutes or so.
Add in more stock and stir.
Your rice and peas should be a little soupy. Remove from heat, taste for seasoning and stir in parsley.
Serve topped with a nice dusting of nutritional yeast and freshly cracked pepper.