It seems as though I’ve been in a bit of an Italian-food mood recently with the garlic scape pesto, fresh tagliatelle, bison ragù and finally the risi e bisi I made Saturday.
The idea for risi e bisi, an Italian dish from Venice, came after I bought a container of fresh shelled peas from the farmer’s market. I love fresh peas and the ones I bought today were wonderfully sweet and a little peppery, and nothing like frozen peas. But I remembered from last year how quickly the peas went bad so I wanted to be sure to use at least some of them right away. Originally I had planned on making risotto with peas and mushrooms but somehow forgot to buy the mushrooms.
It was then that I remembered risi e bisi meaning “rice and peas.” The rice is arborio, the same short grain, starchy rice used in risotto. But the differences between risotto and risi are that the later has a thinner consistency (think really thick stew) that is just thick enough to be eaten with a fork, and also that the rice is cooked by simmering in water rather than the slow-stirring risotto method (see: Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Risotto).
This truly was a simple, filling, tasty dish that seemed just right for the tail-end of spring.
And it turns out it goes really well with BBQ, go figure. I served the leftover risi e bisi at my family’s request with our BBQ dinner (thanks, Twin Anchors) on father’s day and it was a huge hit!
Here’s the recipe:
Risi e Bisi – makes 4 large side-dishes
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
4 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup fresh or frozen shelled peas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute.
Pour in 4 cups of broth and increase the heat to high until the liquid just reaches a boil. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer the broth for 8 minutes, stirring often.
Mix in the peas and continue cooking until the rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir often.
Stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and adjust consistency if necessary by adding more broth.