Risi e Bisi in Italian literally translates to rice and peas.
This is a classic Venetian (Venice, Italy) dish that was prepared only on the feast days decreed by the Doge (Venice’s ruler). These days this law no longer applies and you are allowed to prepare Risi e Bisi at any time, although it is best when fresh peas are available. Even though this recipe uses Aborio rice, which typically is used for Risotto, Risi e Bisi is more like a soup.
I found this soup recipe in a collection from The Moosewood Restaurant, in Ithaca, New York. The Moosewood, was one of the first fully vegetarian restaurants opened in the United States in the early 1970s, and it has been named one of the thirteen most influential restaurants of the 20th century by Bon Appetit magazine. The Moosewood Collective was also one of the first to publish a vegetarian cookbook for home use. “The Moosewood Cookbook” is a recipe book written by Mollie Katzen in 1977. It was hand-lettered, imaginatively illustrated by Katzen, featured a number of the recipes favored by the restaurant at the time, and quickly became a “must have” in many American homes. Recently, “The Moosewood Cookbook” was listed by the New York Times as one of the top ten bestselling cookbooks of all time, and is likely the most popular vegetarian cookbook in the world. Both “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest” and “The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without” are cookbooks written by Katzen that can be considered Sequels to “The Moosewood Cookbook”. When I lived in Rochester, NY for University, I often made the 1 1/2 road trip to Ithaca just to eat at The Moosewood. I do not think any project about vegetarian food would be complete without including at least one of their recipes.
This recipe is incredibly simple and delicious; I could not stop myself from eating two large bowls for lunch. It is gluten free and can easily be made dairy free and vegan by substituting the butter, and leaving out the Parmesan.
Risi E Bisi
- 1 tablespoon butter (or Vegan alternative)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 8 cups “Mock Chicken Stock” (I used a 1/2 and 1/3 combo of mushroom stock and vegetable stock”
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup raw arborio rice
- 2 cups baby peas fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
Warm the butter and olive oil in a medium pot until the butter has completely melted.
Add the onions and sauté on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. The add the stock and salt and turn up the heat to high bringing the stock to a boil. Stir in the rice, and lower the temperature to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 to 20 minutes, until the rice is tender.
Add the peas and cook for another 2 to 3minutes before stirring in 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and the parsley. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately, topped with remaining parmesan.