Risi e Bisi

Venetian Rice and Peas


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This is a typical Venetian recipe that is cooked in the old way of making risotto, without frying the rice in fat at the beginning. The end result is more like a very thick soup than a risotto. Not all recipes for rice and peas call for pancetta, but it adds flavour. The choice of rice variety is important, as the rice needs to become very soft while still keeping its shape. Bear in mind that this dish is served much wetter than other risottos, and should have a soupy texture.


  • 2 litres/ pints/9 cups beef, veal, vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 kg/ lb young fresh peas, in their pods, or 400 g/14 oz frozen petits pois/baby peas, thawed
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 g/2 oz/¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ mild, sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 50 g/2 oz pancetta, chopped
  • 25 g/1 oz chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 300 g/11 oz short grain rice, preferably vialone nano gigante
  • 100 g/ oz/generous 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan, then allow to simmer over a low-medium heat. If using peas in their pods, shell the peas and add the pods to the stock.
  2. Put the olive oil and butter in a heavy pan, add the onion and pancetta, and fry gently for 10 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Stir in the parsley. Fry gently for 4 minutes more. Add the peas and stir well.
  3. Add enough stock to barely cover the vegetables. Simmer slowly for 3-4 minutes until the peas are tender. Add the rice, stir and add a further two ladlefuls of stock.
  4. Season and stir, then cook until the grains have almost completely absorbed the stock. Add another two ladlefuls of stock, keeping the mixture very moist.
  5. Continue in this way, adding the stock two ladlefuls at a time and stirring constantly, until the rice is tender. Always allow the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.
  6. When the rice is soft, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Cover and leave to rest for 3 minutes, then distribute evenly between shallow bowls to serve. Offer extra grated Parmesan to sprinkle on top.