Risi e Bisi

Venetian Rice and Peas

This recipe is cooked in the traditional way of making risotto, without frying the rice in fat at the beginning of the recipe. The end result is more like a very thick soup rather than a risotto. Not all recipes call for pancetta, but in my opinion it adds flavor.


  • lb sweet tender young fresh peas or 4 cups frozen petit pois, thawed
  • tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ mild, sweet onion, chopped fine
  • 2 oz pancetta, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 cups good-quality simmering beef, veal, vegetable, or chicken broth
  • cups risotto rice such as Vialone Nano Gigante
  • about 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. If you are using fresh peas, shell all the peas carefully and rinse them quickly in cold water.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy pan. Add the onion and pancetta and fry for about 10 minutes. Add the parsley and stir. Fry gently for an additional 4 minutes. Add the peas and stir thoroughly.
  3. Add just enough broth to barely cover and simmer very slowly until the peas become tender.
  4. Add the rice, stir and add more broth. Season to taste and stir, waiting until the rice almost absorbs the broth before adding more. Continue in this way, adding broth and stirring, until the rice is cooked through.
  5. When the rice is soft and tender, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cheese and allow to rest for 3 minutes before transferring to a shallow bowl to serve with extra Parmigiano Reggiano.