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“Risi e Bisi” – a Venetian springtime “risotto”

7 June 2010 No Comment

Risi e bisi (rice and peas) is a classic springtime Venetian dish. Technically, you could now prepare it any time of the year but this dish really shines in the month of May and June when the peas are freshly harvest and using the local rice crops in the Po river estuary, among the Verona province.

Risi and Peas dish is known to be brought into our culinary tradition in the 16th century by the Doge of Venice. He loved this dish so much that he declared it “national plate” to be served for the day of St Mark, patron saint of Venice, on the 25th of April.

“Risi ‘n bisi” is now a traditional Venetian dish par excellence but also an international recipe. However it’s neither a soup nor a risotto, it’s something in between! It’s a modest dish but delicious and easy to prepare in less than 30 mins. Here is how.

4 servings – Ingredients
• 1kg fresh peas in the pod
• 1lt chicken stock
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 50g diced pancetta
• 60gr burro
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 200g risotto rice, such as Vialone
• handful of fresh parsley, chopped
• 4 spoon of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
• salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pan, add the pancetta and onion and fry gently (“soffritto”) until the onion is soft and golden (not brown).
2. Add the rice and toast if for a minute.
3. Add the peas (previously shelled), salt them and then slowly ladle the stock.
4. Bring the rice to simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
5. As final touch stir in the butter, parsley and parmesan and season to taste with pepper.

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