Risi e bisi is a classic Italian rice dish originating from Venice. It's neither a risotto nor a soup but an incredibly comforting one-pot meal that comes together with just a handful of ingredients.
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Risi e bisi is a simple rice and peas recipe from the Veneto region. It's easy to make with humble ingredients yet results in a flavourful, comforting meal.
Its consistency should be somewhat between a risotto and a soup, and even though it looks quite similar to risotto, it doesn't require a lot of stirring. Instead, the rice is cooked with the peas as you'd do in a soup.
This is a vegetarian risi e bisi recipe, but you can add diced ham or prosciutto as they often do in Italy.
There are numerous variations of this Italian rice and peas recipe, with some adding rice and peas in equal quantities and others using veal or chicken stock for extra flavour.
Risi e bisi is a spring dish in Italy and usually made with fresh peas but frozen peas are just as good if you want to make it year-round.
Why you'll love this risi e bisi
- It's easier to make than risotto but just as comforting.
- You can make it vegetarian or add some ham for the meat-eaters in the family.
- Leftovers taste great and make an excellent lunch for the next day.
What goes into Italian rice and peas?
Olive oil - You can use butter instead of extra virgin olive oil to create a creamier base.
Shallot - I like the subtle flavour of shallots, but you can use yellow onions instead. Alternatively, use leeks or a mix of leeks and onions.
Spring onion - This adds extra flavour to the dish, but you can skip it if you don't have any on hand.
Garlic - Freshly chopped garlic is best for risi e bisi.
Rice - Any starchy risotto rice works in this recipe. Traditionally, risi e bisi is made with Vialone Nano rice because it's starchier than Carnaroli or Arborio rice and as such, results in a creamier texture.
Vialone Nano is a bit more difficult to find in supermarkets, and it's typically more expensive, so Arborio or Carnaroli are both excellent choices here.
Peas — Freshly shelled green peas are perfect for this dish but you can use frozen peas as well if you want to make risi e bisi year-round.
Vegetable stock - Homemade broth is always best in recipes like this, but shop-bought vegetable stock would also be fine. You can also use chicken broth if not veggie.
Butter - Stirring a knob of butter at the end adds extra creaminess to the dish, but you can skip it if you want to cut down on calories.
Grana Padano - Some people make risi e bisi with Grana Padano, others with Parmigiano Reggiano. Use whatever you like or a vegetarian hard cheese to keep it vegetarian.
Unfortunately, Parmesan and Grana Padano are not vegetarian because they contain animal rennet.
How to make risi e bisi
Add the spring onions and garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the rice and toast it for 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
Add a ladle of stock, bring to a boil, then add the peas.
Stir in the rest of the stock, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the rice is al dente. There should be plenty of liquid left in the pot - add more stock if it looks too dry.
Turn off the heat and stir in the butter and grana Padano. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and leave it to sit for 5 minutes.
Serve your risi e bisi topped with some extra grated grana Padano and freshly chopped parsley if you like.
Leftovers and storage
- Risi e bisi leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- Reheat it in the microwave on full power for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until piping hot. Alternatively, you can heat it on the stovetop, but you'll need to add more veggie stock or some water.
- To freeze risi e bisi, allow it to cool completely and then store it in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. Thaw the rice overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Recipe notes and tips
- This Italian rice and peas dish is hearty and filling on its own, but you can also serve it with a slice of crusty bread or a simple salad.
- Only add salt at the end because the Grana Padano and stock (if using shop-bought) are already salty and you may not need any extra seasoning.
- You can make risi e bisi vegan by using plant-based butter and a vegan hard cheese alternative.
If you liked this risi e bisi recipe, you might also like some of my other easy recipes with rice:
- Vegan Lemon Rice Soup
- Risotto All'Amatriciana
- Risotto with Italian Sausage (Risotto con Salsiccia)
- Creamy Mushroom Wild Rice Pilaf
- Leek and Goat's Cheese Risotto
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, diced
- 6 spring onions, white and light green parts only, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 250 g (8.8 oz) Carnaroli rice
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 125 g (1 cup) fresh or frozen peas
- 30 g (2 tablespoons) butter
- 50 g (½ cup) grana padano grated
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot and sauté the shallot for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the spring onions and garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and toast it for 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
- Add a ladle of stock, bring to a boil, then add the peas. Stir in the rest of the stock, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the rice is al dente. There should be plenty of liquid left in the pot - add more stock if it looks too dry.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the butter and grana Padano. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and leave it to sit for 5 minutes.
- Serve your risi e bisi topped with some extra grated grana Padano and freshly chopped parsley if you like.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 238Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 422mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.