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 sauteed, 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.
- 3 pounds English peas
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stocks, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Remove the peas from their pods. Set the peas aside (you should have 3 to 3 1/2 cups) and put the pods, 1 of the chopped onions, carrots and 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, 30-40 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 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 saute until softened, about 8 minutes. Add a ladleful (about 1 cup) of the simmering broth and stir for 3 to 4 minutes until 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.
Notes: If English peas are not in season, use snow peas or sugar snap peas for the broth. If you don't want to use frozen peas in the risotto, use sugar snap peas cut in half and blanched. Just remember that most vegetables in the Italian Jewish tradition are not al dente, but are cooked all the way through.
Mira Saccrdoti's family uses less rice in this recipe and thins the dish with lots of pea broth. The result is a pea soup with rice rather than rice made with pea broth.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
533 calories; 6g total fat; 0mg cholesterol; 424mg sodium; 99g carbohydrates; 15g fiber; 19g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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