Risi e bisi

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Risi e bisi
an ancient Venetian recipe
risi e bisi

“Risi e bisi” is a typical dish of Veneto, in particular of the city of Venice, based on rice and peas. A dish to be enjoyed especially in spring, when peas are fresh, the basic ingredient of this delicious first course. For this preparation, Vialone Nano rice is preferable as a type of rice, which swells during cooking and absorbs the seasoning. The final result is a dish halfway between risotto and soup: “risi e bisi” should be neither too brothy nor too dry, but soft and creamy. The addition of bacon, which gives even more flavour to the dish, can be added as desired.

History has always attributed “risi e bisi” to the Venetian tradition: since the middle of the 16th century it was tradition to offer this dish to the Doge on April 25th on the occasion of the feast of Saint Mark, patron saint of the city. From Venice it spread to all the cities of the Serenissima. It is very likely, however, that the origin of “risi e bisi” is Byzantine: the oriental peoples had intense trade with the Venetians and often accompanied the rice with vegetables of all kinds.

Here is the recipe. 

Ingredients: 800 g peas with pods, 250 g “Vialone nano” rice, 60 g butter, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 clove of garlic, parmesan cheese, oil, pepper and salt.

Procedure: shell peas by separating the seeds from the pods, keep about 300 gr. of pods and wash both. Prepare the vegetable stock, which will be the basis of the dish well in advance. Put on the fire a pan with about two liters of slightly salted water, add the pods, carrot and ½ onion. Boil for about 1 hour then filter everything and keep warm. Sauté with oil, butter, ½ finely chopped onion, whole garlic clove and chopped parsley. Lower the heat, add a few tablespoons of vegetable stock, cook for a few minutes, then remove the clove of garlic. Add the peas, and when they are ¾ cooked, add all the broth necessary for cooking the soup and the rice. Cook for about 14 minutes more, then remove from the heat. Note: it is recommended to salt the rice and peas only once they are cooked, because the peas could become hard first. Add grated Parmesan cheese to taste and ground black pepper. Leave to rest a few minutes before serving. 

Recommended wine: Lugana or Custoza.

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