In many cookbooks, we encounter pea rice as a rather dry side dish. This has little to do with the original from Veneto, because risi e bisi is actually a full course. It is prepared like a risotto, only even creamier.
Fine peas for the Doge …
One pea per grain of rice is an old rule for risi e bisi. No one has taken this quite literally. However, according to legend, the Venetians were already cultivating peas in the Middle Ages. A variety from Lumignano was famous because it was considered particularly sweet and tender. The Benedictines in Venice also grew them in their monastery. When once again the patron saint of the city, St. Mark, was celebrated, the monks prepared the banquet for the Doge: including a minestra (soup) of peas and rice, the noble grain and the noble vegetable.
… and the people
The name risi e bisi derives, on the one hand, from the many grains of rice: Risi is the plural of the Italian word for rice. Bisi is the name for peas in the local dialect. While the nobility farmed or bought in the fertile Po Valley, Venice provided isole-orto (garden islands) for its farmers in the lagoon. Crops and fruit from these islands and fish from nearby fishing grounds were destined for the city market and could be bought at affordable prices. The people of Venice were not to go hungry. After all, the Serenissima (from Latin serenus for "serene") had a reputation to lose.
The archives of the Benedictines still contain written documents on the preparation of risi e bisi. In those days, nothing was wasted in the kitchen. So the pea pods also found their way into the minestra, which the Doge enjoyed so much that he asked for it again every year. The cooked, puréed pods make the dish even creamier than a traditional risotto. In addition, the pods add more sweetness and a touch of delicate spring greens.
Rice and peas - Risi e bisi
- 300 g peas, young , in pods
- 1 onion
- 60 g butter
- 1 l vegetable, stock
- 300 g risotto rice
- 4 tbsp parmesan, grated
- Pick the peas out of the pods. Remove the coarse threads and skin from the pods with a knife. Boil the pods in as little water as possible until soft, then purée and set aside.
- Heat up the clear soup. Finely chop the onion and gently sauté in 30g butter. Add the peas and a ladle of soup and simmer gently for a few minutes. As soon as the liquid reduces, add the rice and gently fry, pour in a ladle of soup. Now finish cooking the pea risotto by adding the hot soup ladle by ladle. Stir again and again. The rice should still be firm to the bite. Depending on the type of rice, this will take 12-18 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt. Remove the risi e bisi from the cooker. Stir in the remaining butter, the Parmesan and the pod purée thoroughly. Serve warm with freshly ground pepper and chopped parsley