In its heyday, the powerful maritime state of Venice had contacts with both the inland and diverse and faraway counties and cultures. Therefore the culinary tradition of the city is full of outside influences. Baccalà (dried salted cod) is of Baltic origin, and various spices, black pepper in particular, were very important imports from Asia. The roots of risi e bisi (rice with peas) are in the Arabic world. Soon after its introduction, rice became an integral part of the local cuisine. No one really knows if this dish is a risotto or a soup – the jury is still out on that. But it is, nonetheless, an excellent and nutritious dish to be had especially when fresh peas are in season. This particular recipe interprets risi e bisi more as a risotto, and it is prepared with ham blocks and white rice. Parmigiano gives it a finishing touch.
3 shallots, sliced
250 gr/ 8 2/3 oz peas
100 gr/ 3.5 oz ham blocks
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmigiano
Cook the rice in a pot filled with salted boiling water. Drain and set aside, but keep it warm.
Heat olive oil in pan and saute the shallots lightly until they soften. Add the ham blocks and the peas and cook further for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix the rice together with the peas and ham and the freshly grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.