I go through a lot of frozen peas. Generally I add them to Parker’s food to cool hot foods down quickly, but imagine my delight when I rediscovered this little gem of a recipe that revolves around them. “Risi e bisi” simply means rice and peas, but that doesn’t even begin to describe how good this is. I don’t know if you would call it a thick soup or a soupy risotto, but no matter. I just call it delicious. (Despite it’s sludgy green appearance.)
I’ve been a Nigella Lawson fan for quite some time. We had a free preview of the Style Network one weekend when I was like 13 or something, and I saw her make mozzarella en carozza on Nigella Bites
. I was intrigued, and it ended up that one of the first cookbooks I ever bought myself was Forever Summer. While today I mainly use it for the ice cream recipes (hello Margarita Ice Cream), I used to make this a lot. Waaaaaay back when I was in college, my cooking basically consisted of cobbling together what we already had in the house with maybe one or two things from the store. The only money I was making was from babysitting, and the majority of that was spent paying people for Popov and Natty Light. This recipe is one of those that I used to make back in the day. It’s super cheap and easy, but so, so good. These days, despite the fact that I’m actually employed, I’m still brokity broke. (I don’t have to pay people to buy me shitty liquor anymore, but I’ve moved up to Ketel and Blue Moon. Oh yeah, and I have a kid.)
The whole point of this recipe is to use fresh peas and simmer the pods for stock and yadda yadda, but like much else in life, I half-ass it. Frozen peas and bouillon
, but I do use real Parm. You’re also supposed to use a blender, but I’ve found it much easier to go low tech. The amount of ingredients in the blender isn’t enough to properly puree it, and it all gets stuck under the blades. When you try and get it out with a spatula, it will get stuck and put a hole in your oldest and most beloved kitchen utensil. You will end up having to strain some stock out of the pot to add to the blender to make sure you get it all out of the damned machine. So yeah, don’t use a blender. I used to use a mini food processor with great results, but that thing crapped out on me when I was making vats of baby food last year. So I suggest you just use a fork and mush it all together, as room temperature butter and thawed frozen peas aren’t exactly the most unwieldy ingredients.
Keep an eye out for Arborio rice in the bulk bins at your grocery store. I find it to be much more cost effective than paying four bucks for ten ounces of RICE or some craptastic BS like that.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parm
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup Arborio rice
3 cups hot water + appopriate measure of stock base of your choice (Or be better than me and use stock.)
Smush together 1/2 cups of the peas, the butter, and a tablespoon of the Parm with either a fork or a pastry blender. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium-ish saucepan over medium low-ish heat. Add the onion and soften for about 5-7 minutes. Add the parsley and cook for another minute or two, making sure that the heat is low enough that the onion does not pick up any color. Add the un-smushed peas and rice. Stir so that everything is coated with a glossy sheen of fat. Add the broth and your mushy peas. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, take the pan off the heat, and leave covered for another 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining Parmesan and plate, adding more cheese and/or parsley to your liking.