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Milk Street Bowtie Venetian Rice and Peas (Risi e Bisi)

Venetian Rice and Peas (Risi e Bisi)

4-6 Servings

1¼ hours

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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

1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large white onion, half thinly sliced, half finely chopped
1 medium celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups frozen peas, divided (1 cup still frozen, 1 cup thawed and at room temperature)
2 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
3-4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, divided
1 cup vialone nano or Arborio rice
Ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 cup), plus more to serve
Ingredients
  • 1

    medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1

    large white onion, half thinly sliced, half finely chopped

  • 1

    medium celery stalk, thinly sliced

  • 2

    teaspoons fennel seeds

  • 1

    quart low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2

    cups frozen peas, divided (1 cup still frozen, 1 cup thawed and at room temperature)

  • 2

    cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 3-4

    ounces pancetta, finely chopped

  • 4

    tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, divided

  • 1

    cup vialone nano or Arborio rice

  • Ground black pepper

  • 2

    ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 cup), plus more to serve

Directions

Venetian Rice and Peas (Risi e Bisi)

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Reviews
John G.

What do you suggest to modify this for a vegetarian?

Lynn C.

Hi John -

You can omit the pancetta and replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. We highly recommend making your own vegetable broth over buying it in the market as canned or boxed vegetable broths often have an "off" flavor. We have a great, quick recipe, which you can find here - https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/easy-vegetable-broth. If you've got one, I'd add the rind of a hunk of parmesan to the broth for added flavor.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Cynthia T.

Do you think the addition of some vegetarian bacon will provide some of the flavor you would get from the pancetta?

Jon S.

I ended up doing just that -- omitted the pancetta entirely and subbed in veggie broth. Quite good.

Amanda F.

Very tasty! and it re-warms beautifully, which is nice when there are only 2 at home!

maureen s.

Very good I would make this again. It wasn't too hard either.

christine d.

As someone who doesn't love peas, I loved this dish. The fennel was subtle and added a really nice layer of flavor. We will definitely make this again.

John M.

What makes this Risi e Bisi recipe so much better than other recipes out there is the addition of pancetta, fennel seeds and that puree. Amazingly delicious, and a dish I'll be making repeatedly. Thanks Michela and Diane!

flavia Z.

This was very good. My stepmother was from the Veneto, and she made it the traditional way which cooked the pea pods in vegetable broth for an hour or so, til soft, and put them through a food mill into the risotto. More labor intensive, but so good if you are inclined. Something synergistic about rice and peas, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Jennifer B.

Not a fan, kind of green and runny. I probably would have doubled the rice. But bland all around.

Ruth W.

We made this for our New Years Eve stay at home dinner and it was wonderful! Very easy recipe and not that much work.