Risi e bisi (rice and peas)

25 Apr

Rice and peas
Neither a risotto nor a soup, risi e bisi is one of the most comforting bowls of food imaginable. With so few ingredients, quality shows through. It’s wonderful with fresh peas and the pods used to flavour the stock.

Of Venetian origin, risi e bisi is traditionally served on April 25, St Mark’s Day, when the first fresh peas become available. In fact, Marcella Hazan says it should only be called risi e bisi when made with fresh peas. We’re not such sticklers around here, and I’ve been making this dish long before I heard of her.

I discovered it in David Cohlmeyer’s The Vegetarian Chef, a wonderful collection of vegetarian recipes from around the world. His cookbook was the first I’d come across that was organised by season.

A pioneering Canadian food writer and vegetarian chef, Cohlmeyer has been advocating for seasonal, local food for decades.

Risi e bisi
(serves 4)

  • 4 Tb butter
  • 1/2 a small white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup risotto rice
  • 400g frozen peas
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
  1. In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden.
  2. In another pot, heat the stock until it reaches a simmer.
  3. Add the rice to the onions, stirring to coat. Add three cups of stock, the peas, and the salt.
  4. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Leave the rice to simmer, stirring occasionally, until it is cooked through.
  5. The final result should be soupier than a risotto – if it seems too thick, add some of the remaining stock.
  6. Mix in the grated Parmesan, adjust the seasoning, and serve.

3 Responses to “Risi e bisi (rice and peas)”

  1. Adam Garfunkel April 25, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    Nice! And I appreciated the comparisons between different cooks’ views of the dish …

  2. thehungrymum April 27, 2015 at 6:39 am #

    wow this looks good for Sydney’s cold snap! Happy to have found your blog, have started following you, and on pinterest, too.

    • Andrea April 27, 2015 at 8:14 am #

      Great to have you following – hope you enjoy the blog!

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