Although you won’t often see it on many restaurant menus in Venice, Risi e Bisi (literally rice and peas) is one of the city’s classic dishes, often cooked at home and traditionally eaten on feast days. You don’t need to be celebrating to try this incredibly easy, deliciously simple version of risotto, just a supply of fresh, spring peas in their pod. (Pick them up in season as Venice’s Rialto market). If you can’t find fresh peas, this recipe works equally as well with asparagus tips or courgettes and good quality, pre-made stock (the kind you buy in tetrabricks) is fine. All you want to know about Venice’s Rialto Market!
This recipe is for two people:
- Half-litre of vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 medium onion-chopped
- 100 grams pancetta – chopped (optional)
- 1 ½ kilos of peas in their pod
- 2 cups of Arborio rice
- Plenty of Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
- Olive oil and butter
- Shell the peas.
Add to pods to the stock and heat to just below boiling point. In a separate, heavy-based saucepan, sauté the onion in equal parts of olive oil and butter. Add the pancetta and stir for another minute or two. Add the rice and coat the grains in the mixture, stirring constantly until they are translucent.
Add the stock (minus the pods!) a ladle at a time, continually stirring until so that the rice goes ‘creamy’. When half-cooked, add the peas and continue stirring until the rice is al dente. Throw in a handful of Parmesan whilst still on the heat. Serve, garnish with salt and black pepper and more Parmesan and eat immediately!