Friday, October 14, 2011

Risi e Bisi

Fresh peas are one of spring and fall's true delicacies. They have such a short season, you have to snatch them up as soon as they're available, because in a few weeks, they'll be gone.

Risi e Bisi, or rice and peas, is a classic Italian dish. It's a cross between risotto and a thick soup. To get the right consistency, you have to use a short grain rice. Arborio rice, or one of its cousins, like Carnaroli, is best.

You can use either home-made or store-bought chicken broth or vegetable broth. You can make a vegetable broth from the pea pods if you don't mind this extra step. Place the empty pods (after you've shelled the peas) in a stock pot. Add 2 carrots, 2 ribs celery, 1 small onion, 1/2-1 t salt, a few peppercorns, a bay leaf, and 6 C cold water. Heat it to almost boiling. Turn down the heat and simmer slowly for about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Then strain and discard the spent vegetables.

Risi E Bisi

2 T butter
1/4 C finely chopped onion
1 C Arborio rice
3-4 C broth
1 C shelled fresh peas
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C freshly grated parmesan cheese
chopped fresh parsley for a garnish

1. In a medium to large stock pot, melt 2 T butter. Add the onion and saute until barely translucent.

2. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.

3. Stir in 1 C broth. Add the shelled peas. Continue stirring until the broth is nearly all absorbed.

4. Stir in remaining broth 1/2-1 C at a time, waiting until the broth is nearly absorbed before adding the next cup.

5. Continue stirring in broth until the rice and peas are tender and the dish is creamy or even a little soupy.

6. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into bowls and garnish with finely chopped fresh parsley to serve.

Some recipes for Risi e Bisi call for a little chopped pancetta Omnivores may enjoy this tasty addition. You can add the chopped pancetta at the beginning when you're sauteing the onions in the butter.

Some folks like to garnish Risi e Bisi with finely chopped basil instead of parsley. Try it if you have some nice fresh basil.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Romaine lettuce, summer squash, leeks, sugar snap peas, bi-color corn, artichokes, jalapeno, and Sharlyn melon.

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: limes, mandarins, and Hass avocados.

And from Silver Lake Farms: mustard and arugula microgreens.



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