Brothy rice with peas, called risi i bisi, is a classic Venetian dish. Though historically prepared only on the feast days decreed by the Doge, Venice’s ruler, this dish, timed to the arrival of springtime peas, is a celebration in itself. Alas, for those of us in more northern climes, peas only go in as soon as the ground can be worked, usually mid to late April, their pods just a promise until June or July. In the meantime, we patiently make do with our store of freezer peas, and await their true season as the vines climb their way upwards over the next couple of months.
Risotto with Peas and Spring Onion Oil
4 to 5 cups stock
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup vialone nano or other arborio-type rice
1 cup dry white white
2 cups blanched peas
Sea salt and freshly grated black pepper
Spring onion oil
Asparagus, roasted and chopped, for garnish
Grated parmesan cheese
– Bring the stock to a simmer, cover and keep warm. In a wide, shallow pan, melt a large pat or two of butter in a generous glug of olive oil. Add the onion, and saute until tender. Stir in the rice, coating with oil, and continue to saute until the grains begin to look transparent. Add the white wine, bring to a simmer, stirring until the liquid is almost all absorbed. Continue by adding the stock a cupful at a time, allowing it to become absorbed between additions, until the rice is almost tender but still firm to the bite.
– Stir in the peas, and season to taste. Finish with a swirl of spring onion oil and topped with roasted asparagus. Serve with grated parmesan on the side.