It’s been a while since I’ve made an Italian dish that didn’t contain tomatoes and/or capers within it’s ingredient list. When it comes to Italian cooking at home, I’ve learned to play to the crowd.
That being said, when I decided to research peas, this was the first recipe on my list. The primary reason has more to do with the name than the dish’s reputation. This is the way my mind works at times, where I’m drawn to a recipe based on it’s name more than what the recipe actually entails.
When approaching Risi e bisi, the basic image that should be in your head is thus – A soupy risotto. Not overly soupy mind you, but it should be far more “wet” than your typical Italian rice dish.
As with most Italian recipes, this is not the defining recipe for risi e bisi, as it lends itself to many interpretations. For example, if I were to make this again, I’d probably add a touch of saffron, or go a bit heavier on the ground pepper. But this recipe below is a good starting point.
One last point…For the peas- Frozen peas are okay I suppose, but fresh peas from the pod is where it’s at. As an added bonus, the pea pods can be thrown into a veggie stock which you can use in the risi e bisi.
If you believe you can make a decent dish with canned peas, then you are the walking definition of the word “optimist”.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 1/2 cups peas
- 1/2 cup parsley, minced
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Green onions, for garnish
Place a large skillet over medium heat, and place in the oil, onions, garlic and pancetta. Cook until the onion starts to turn tranlucent, between 8-10 minutes.
Add the rice and 1 cup of the veggie stock. Allow the stock to come to a boil and then be absorbed by the rice. Once absorbed, add one ladle of stock. Repeat this process until you get the consistency you wish, noting that it’s likely that you won’t use all of the veggie stock.
When the risi e bisi finally gets to the consistency you wish, complete the dish by adding the parmesan cheese and butter.
Serves 6 – 8
When the rice is half done, add the peas with the minced parsley.