“The peas are green! Spring has begun! Long live Venice!” The April 25th Venice tradition is for the Doge (the Chief Magistrate) to taste a spoonful of the city’s most famous dish, Risi e bisi, in public to annunciate the start of the Feast of Saint Mark. Risi e bisi (Rice and Peas) marks the start of spring – join Bijouxs in celebrating this little jewel of dish.
The charming book Venice & Food by Sally Spector transports the armchair traveler on a journey to sample the foods of Venice. I perfected my version of Rise e bisi via this book, and relish the luxurious palate created from the recipe’s simple ingredients.
A mere five ingredients; fresh peas, onion, butter, olive oil and Parmesan cheese make up a dish that is so much more than a plate of rice and peas. All traditions considered, Risi e bisi is a risotto dish with a special characteristic, that of riso all’ onada, rice with a wave, a risotto that is more liquid than its traditional Milanese counterpart.
Risi e bisi really needs to be made with fresh English peas, so in keeping with the Bijouxs goal of bringing you seasonal recipes, you will encounter fresh peas this month in markets such as Whole Foods, of course at local farmers markets.
The true jewels of this dish are the peas, little strings of pearls. The pods do not go to waste, they are gently simmered to create a pea-infused broth that you will add as you cook the risotto. If you extend Risi e bisi your full attention for the 18 -20 minutes required (turn off the Blackberry/iPhone), you will be rewarded with a creamy plate of Risi e Bisi.
Viva Venezia! Spring has begun! Grazie. True Bijouxs.