Risi e bisi has always been an extremely popular dish, with an ancient tradition dating back to the days of the Republic of Venice. At that time, it used to be made on St. Mark’s day to celebrate the patron saint of Venice, and was presented with much ceremony to the Doge. This creamy springtime dish combined rice, a symbol of fertility, with peas, the heralds of spring, growing in every orchard of this splendid town. Together, these ingredients created a magnificent dish, which was served to all the members of the Council of Venice. Risi e bisi is still one of the most typical and internationally acclaimed dishes from Veneto, not only popular in Venice but also in the environs of Verona. It is here that the rice – Vialone nano and Carnaroli in particular – comes from, but this area, and especially the town of Colognola ai Colli, is also famous for its peas, and naturally, for its excellent Garda PDO extra-virgin olive oil.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6)
500 g fresh peas, shelled
1 medium-sized white onion (50-70 g)
400 g PGI vialone nano rice
1/2 glass white wine
1 small slice of lard
Garda PDO extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and a little pepper for the stock
Empty pea pods, an onion, water
Salt and pepper to taste
For a creamier consistency: a knob of butter and grated PDO Grana Padano cheese (optional)
Shell the peas and place the empty pods in a saucepan full of salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 min, then strain. Sauté the chopped onion and lard in a pan drizzled with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil till slightly blond, add the peas with a little chopped parsley and a ladleful of stock or warm water. When nearly cooked, remove part of the peas, setting them aside for decoration, and add the others to a pan in which the rice has been toasted until translucent. Continue cooking as per a risotto, adding a ladleful of stock at a time until cooked. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and knob of butter. Decorate with the leftover peas.