Venetian Dishes
risi e Bisi, rice and peas, riso, bisi, piselli, rice, peas, peas soup, zuppa di piselli, risotto ai piselli, cucina veneta, veneto, traditional recipes, ricette tradizionali, ricette venete, Venezia, Venice

Risi e bisi (Rice and Peas)

  • Portions: 4
  • Time: 1hr. + the broth
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Ingredients
For the broth
  • 3 liters of water
  • 3 grains of black pepper
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • salt

For rice
  • 200 g of Vialone Nano rice
  • 1 kg of whole fresh peas
  • 40 g of parsley
  • 1 shallot
  • 50 g of pancetta
  • 50 g of butter
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil
June started late: I was on vacation and lost count of the days, that classic feeling that leads you to ask someone what day it is today, and it was just good for me.
The hours passed by reading as I had not done for a long time, sleeping a lot, eating well, breathing sea air, gettin' angry with the travel size of hair conditioner that could not tame my curly hair.
I read on the beach mostly: the wind was quite annoying, cold, but I liked the salty smell it brought with it, like the sudden high tides that bathed my towel and led me to pick up my things quickly or the waves that as we walked on the shore they splashed on us and made us jump.

Then I came back home and I'm already late with the recipes on the blog, with the newsletter, with changing wardrobe, with ironing and cleaning the floors, with certain aspects of life, maybe even.
That damn feeling that often takes me to believe that I'm always behind, always late and in trouble, as if there were a ferocious beast chasing after me and wanting me to bite at the ankles: I've been living with this feeling for years and sometimes I just want to stop and sit and see things go by.

So I cooked a rice and bisi.

Risi e bisi is a slow risotto, slower than traditional risotto but thicker than a rice soup. It is a dish whose historical origins are to be attributed to the Most Serene Republic of Venice: the Doge, supreme magistracy of the Republic of Venice, appreciated it so much that it became the symbolic dish of the celebrations held at Palazzo Ducale to honor the patron San Marco on April 25th For the occasion the dish had to be particularly rich: a pea for each grain of rice.
If you can, choose to prepare the Vialone Nano of Grumolo delle Abbadesse (VI) rice: the cultivation has been introduced since the '500 by the Benedictine nuns, the Badesse precisely, to which we also owe the reclamation of the marshy areas and the construction of suitable canals for the harvest.
Vialone Nano is a Slow Food presidium because it has a low yield and the market in recent times has preferred more modern and productive varieties such as Carnaroli.

Peas instead, called "Bisi", are traditionally cultivated in particular in Lumignano. This small village, at the foot of a cliff, is equipped with terraced vegetable gardens called "masiere": thanks to the intuition of the peasants of past ages the heat that the sun-warmed rock returned to the ground allowed to obtain crops so early as to be able to provide the "Bisi" to the Doge for the celebrations of April 25th. It is a very delicate crop and, when the weather helps the growers, the production does not exceed 7000 quintals, destined mostly to the restaurant, to the typical Festival of Bisi and to us locals that we try to buy some.

And so, shelling peas in silence, listening to the boiling broth and stirring slowly with a wooden spoon, the feeling of delay has melted with the butter.
Prepare the vegetable broth: with these doses you get even more than you need for the recipe but you can freeze it in small doses in the ice tray to add it to other recipes or in bottles to consume it shortly.
In a large pot pour the 3 liters of water, the black pepper grains, the celery cleaned and cutted in large pieces, the peeled carrot, the cleaned and halved onion, potatoes (peeled and cutted into a couple of pieces). Let it simmer slowly, it will take at least an hour and a half. Filter the obtained broth and keep the vegetables aside to eat them or for other preparations, maybe add them to some meatballs. Finally,  salt and let it melt well before turning off the heat.

Remove the peas preserving the pod but also removing the string that is along its length. Put the pods to boil in salted water and once cooked, blend them with a bit of cooking water and filter to obtain a thick liquid to combine with the vegetable broth. Keep warm on low heat.
[If you are not sure that the pods are absolutely organic and untreated, omit this step, is not a problem!!]

Wash and mince the parsley, clean and thinly slice the shallot and mince the bacon with the knife.

In a saucepan, cook the spring onion with half the butter, the pancetta, two tablespoons of oil and the parsley. Add the peas with a ladle of broth.
Wait for it to dry then pour in the rice and cover it with plenty of broth: leave it to simmer and stir often. Taste the cooking of the rice and decide the density to give it, adding a little more stock or letting it dry, then add salt and pepper.

Keep out of the fire and add the rest of the butter and the cheese: it will result in a thick, tasty and fragrant soup.