Risi e Bisi - Venetian Risotto with Spring Peas
Level: Moderate
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
A Venetian classic, eaten as a main rather than a side, this dish was once reserved for royalty and prepared on feast days. Best in winter or spring when baby peas are just harvested, risi e bisi is so popular that it can be found in Veneto throughout the year.
  • 1 large onion
  • 100 grams pancetta
  • 300 grams peas (shelled)
  • 400 grams Vialone Nano Veronese or Arborio rice
  • 2 liters of broth
  • 1 sprig of fresh parsley
  • 5 tbl freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 tbl butter
  • 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  1. Begin by heating 1 tbl of butter in a thick bottomed pot.
  2. Thinly slice the onion and cook in the butter until translucent.
  3. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and slightly crisp.
  4. Add the peas and parsley and cook, stirring frequently as not to burn anything.
  5. When the peas and parsley are just beginning to brown, add a ladle or two of broth, bring to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes more.
  6. Add 1 liter of broth, bring to a simmer and add the rice.
  7. Cook the rice, stirring constantly, until tender. Add small amounts of broth as moisture evaporates to keep the mixture slightly soupy.
  8. Once the rice is done, stir in the remaining butter and the grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley.
Historically, the amount peas was greater than or equal to the amount of rice in this dish. Over time, the recipe evolved and today the rice and peas are found in varying ratios. The use of pancetta is optional and the stock used to make the dish is sometimes vegetable and sometimes meat, so this is an option for vegetarians, depending on who's cooking. If fresh peas are not in season or not available in your area, the dish can be made with frozen peas, just defrost before adding.