Venetian Rice and Peas (Risi e Bisi) | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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With cucina povera, a simple dish of rice and peas tastes richly complex

Venetian Rice and Peas (Risi e Bisi)

Appears in May-June 2021

1¼ hours

Venetian Rice and Peas (Risi e Bisi)

Rice and peas, or risi e bisi, is a classic Venetian dish, traditionally eaten on April 25, St. Mark’s Day. Much like risotto, the rice is rich and creamy because of the starchiness of the grains and how they are cooked. But risi e bisi typically is a bit soupier. Sweet peas stud the dish, and in the version taught to us by Michela Tasca, owner of Ca’ de Memi farm and bed and breakfast in Piombino Dese outside of Venice, the al dente grains were bathed in beautiful pale green broth, a result of peas pureed into the cooking liquid. For our version, we puree peas plus fresh parsley with a small amount of a broth infused with aromatics. To keep the flavors and color vibrant, we hold off on adding the puree, along with additional whole peas, until the rice has finished cooking. Pancetta provides salty, meaty backbone and fennel seeds, with their notes of licorice, complement the grassy, sweetness of the peas. Vialone nano is the preferred variety of Italian medium-grain rice for risi e bisi, but easier to find Arborio works just as well.

4-6

Servings

Tip

Don’t thaw all of the peas. The 1 cup of peas that’s blended with hot broth and parsley should be kept frozen so that the puree remains a brilliant green; the 1 cup stirred in at the end should be fully thawed and at room temperature so the peas don’t cool the rice.

1¼ hours

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