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.
Cabbage is a true superfood and contains fiber, vitamins A, C, K and B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, folate and potassium. Green veggies are also low in calories, and are therefore ideal for weight management. According to one study, by increasing your daily green leafy vegetables intake you could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11 percent. This recipe comes from Northern Italy’s Piedmont region, which is mainly known for agriculture. Poor farmers used in the kitchen everything they had, and never threw anything away. Therefore these Savoy cabbage rolls can be filled practically with anything. When purchasing cabbage, try to avoid pre-cut or preshredded cabbage because of their greatly diminished vitamin content. Peak season for most cabbages runs from November through April.
1 Savoy cabbage
300 gr/10 oz minced meat
100 gr/3.5 oz rice
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated nutmeg
100 gr/3.5 oz grated Parmesan cheese
2.5 dl/1 cup strong beef stock
Rinse the Savoy cabbage leaves and soak them in salted boiling water for a few minutes until the leaves soften. Set the cabbage leaves aside.
Cook the rice in salted boiling water according to the instructions on the package. Fry the minced meat in a pan and season with salt and pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg. Combine the minced meat together with the rice and add the grated Parmesan cheese and egg. Mix well.
With the help of a spoon, put some minced meat and rice filling in the middle of each cabbage leaf. Wrap the leaves shut and put them one by one into a baking dish that has been greased lightly with olive oil. Drizzle some olive oil on the surface and bake in the oven, preheated to 180 C/355 F, for 45 minutes. Prepare the very strong beef stock and pour 2-3 tablespoonfuls over the cabbage rolls once every 10 minutes.