Riso con Brodo di Piselli

Rice in Pea Pod Broth with Peas

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Unlike the Venetian classic risi e bisi that it resembles, this Jewish version of pea risotto uses a broth made from pea pods rather than chicken or meat broth. The result is a lovely pale green risotto. In the original recipe from La cucina nella tradizione ebraica, the peas and onions were sautéed, then rice was added, and the rice and peas were cooked nearly a half hour. Most peas are tender after 10 to 15 minutes, so if you like you can add the peas midway during the cooking time of the risotto. A shorter time over the heat will help them retain their color as well.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds English peas
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method

Remove the peas from their pods. Set the peas aside (you should have 3 to 3½ cups) and put the pods, 1 of the chopped onions, the carrots, and the celery in a large saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the pea pods are very tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Working in batches, puree the vegetables, pea pods, and the cooking water in a blender. If the puree is too fibrous, pass it through a food mill or a sieve. You will need 6 cups broth for the risotto, so add additional vegetable broth or water to the puree to total this amount and so it is thin enough to be easily absorbed by the rice. Pour the broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.

Warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining chopped onion and half of the parsley and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add a ladleful (about 1 cup) of the simmering broth and stir for 3 to 4 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Reduce the heat and continue to add the broth a ladleful at a time, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until the rice kernels are al dente at the center and creamy on the outside, 18 to 20 minutes in all. Add the peas midway during the cooking (just before the last 2 additions of broth). Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a warmed serving dish. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and a little Parmesan cheese, if using. Serve immediately.