Have you ever tasted the renowned Venetian dish risi e bisi? I stick to variations of it, to avoid the pancetta. Rizi e bisi is a springtime specialty in Venice, used to celebrate the feast of San Marco on 25th April.
Springtime is the season for garden peas. You can get frozen peas, or even canned, but their taste doesn’t come anywhere close to that of fresh peas. The sweetest peas are the smaller ones, before their sugar content starts changing to starch.
You’d be surprised to find that 100 grams of raw fresh peas provide you with 67% of your daily Vitamin C intake and 15% of Vitamin A requirements. It’s such a simple vegetable (a legume actually), which many people grow in their back garden, yet it’s a powerhouse of nutrients. Peas are low in calories and high in fibre. They also provide you with calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and manganese.
How to use Garden Peas
Garden peas can be used in a variety of ways. Paired with fresh mint they make an excellent cold summer soup. You can mash them or use them in purees or simply use them as a side. Raw fresh peas also make a great salad ingredient. The simpler the recipe, the more you get to appreciate the sweet taste of fresh peas.
Here is a simple way of making a vegetarian version of the famous risi e bisi mentioned earlier. It makes a hearty and filling supper. Quick and easy to make in just over half an hour.
makes two portions as main course
|5||Cloves garlic (in springtime you can replace with fresh garlic)|
|Pinch||Crushed chillies (optional)|
|2 tbsp||Olive oil|
|1 cup||Wholemeal basmati rice|
|2 cups||Fresh peas (shelled)|
|2 cups||Vegetable broth|
|Grated Parmesan and parsley to serve|
- Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. (If using fresh garlic use two / three heads of garlic).
- Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and gently fry the onion until it is translucent. Add the crushed garlic and the chillies (if using) and fry gently for one or two minutes.
- Rinse and drain the rice. Tip into the pan and stir into the mixture of onion, garlic and chillies. Fry gently for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the hot broth, and give the rice a good stir.
- Bring to the boil and lower heat to minimum. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
- Add the shelled peas to the pan and cover quickly, without stirring. Continue simmering for a further 10 minutes.
- By this time, all the stock should be absorbed. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to rest (with the lid in place) for a further 5 minutes.
- Serve with grated Parmesan (optional) and finely chopped parsley.
For a vegan version, omit the Parmesan. You may replace the wholemeal basmati with carnaroli or arborio rice, in which case the end result would be closer to a risotto.
One main difference between my version of risi e bisi and the renowned Venetian recipe is that my recipe is eaten with a fork. The authentic recipe is very similar to a thick soup which is eaten with a spoon.
Feel free to try both, and leave a comment to let me know which you prefer.
My thanks go to: