A Venetian rice dish for the Spring

Rice and Peas

Risi e bisi

This dish was traditionally eaten by the Doge on St.Mark’s Day, April 25,  but we don’t have to wait.

Rossini, while living in Venice, wrote the Risi chorus of his opera, ‘Tancredi’, while waiting for his Risi e Bisi to be served in his favourite trattoria. It is a Venetian speciality which is made with the very first sweet young peas. However frozen peas will work if a well-flavoured stock is used. If you are using fresh young peas cook the washed empty pods in some lightly salted boiling water to make the stock. This dish is meant to be more liquid than a risotto  – it should resembles a dense broth.

.   250 g rice, preferably Vialone or Carnaroli

    400 g shelled peas

    40 g butter

    1 small onion

    50 g Parmesan cheese

    2 thin bacon rashers (optional)

    1 litre light stock

    chopped parsley or mint


    black pepper

Melt half the butter in a large pan and add the finely chopped onions, bacon and parsley or mint. After a few minutes add the peas and two ladles full of boiling water. If the peas are not young and sweet add a pinch of sugar. Cover and cook for five minutes or a little longer if the peas are rather large. Add the boiling stock and the rice. When the rice is cooked stir in the remaining butter and the freshly grated cheese. Check the seasoning and grind a little black pepper on top.



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