Rice and Peas (Risi e Bisi) is basically a variant of risotto and while a good risotto is creamy in texture, a good bowl of risi e bisi is looser in composition.
As you would guess, the humble pea is the star of the rice-based dish and the fresher the pea, the better the dish (here’s my guide to buying fresh fruit and vegetables). I like to make risi e bisi in the Spring when fresh peas are abundant, but I also crave the dish in the winter time when I make use of good quality frozen peas (both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carry organic frozen peas at a decent price).
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup finely diced onion
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 8.5 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken; bones if you have homemade stock!)
- 1.5 cups peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1.5 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ - ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Salt (Kosher) and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1.5 cups arborio rice (click here to see which brand tested best at America's Test Kitchens)
- A good risotto starts with Arborio rice. Look for brands imported from Italy and expect to pay a premium for this superb starch (a little goes a long way). Begin by sautéing the finely diced onion with olive oil in a large pot, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Next, add a bit more olive oil and sauté the Arborio rice until the kernels become translucent (this will add tremendous flavor to the dish and also start the cooking process for the rice). Next, add the white wine and stir the ingredients. Next, add enough stock to cover the rice and stir well..
- At this point you'll need to constantly stir the mixture and add one ladle of warm stock every 5-10 minutes (or whenever the ingredients are not covered by liquid), your flame should also be on simmer. After about 10-15 minutes you should start to see the Arborio rice release it's starch and the kernels begin to plump up. At this point, add the frozen peas and stir.
- The total cooking time should be between 30-45 minutes. At the 30 minute mark be sure to taste the rice kernels (you don't want al dente rice); once the rice is done add a bit more salt and pepper to taste and the freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Mix the rice well and add 1-1.5 ladle of stock and the freshly chopped parsley (adding the extra stock at the end creates the variation in composition for your dish, remember you're not making risotto!).