The “rice and peas” is a typical recipe of the Venetian tradition. It is excellent in the spring because in this season we have the best peas, the main ingredient of this dish. The rice for this dish, however, is the nano vialone IGP, and not the classic Carnaroli, which has the characteristic to be very swell during cooking thus absorbing more seasoning.
Define the rice and peas is not easy. Even today many people wonder if this dish belongs to the category of risotto or soups: neither one nor the other! In fact, the rice and peas must be a happy medium between both, that should be neither too dry nor too soupy, but a kind of thick soup.
The history of rice and peas
It was a dish almost regal in fact it was a tradition in the city of Venice. They offered the rice and peas to the Doge on the occasion of the city’s patron saint San Marco on April the 25th.
In 1800, however, the cry “Rice and peas and strawberries” (white, red and green like the Italian flag) was the equivalent of the Venetian ” cheers Verdi (famous composer)” that people shouted in Milan against the occupying Austrians.
Rice and peas is one of the most famous dishes of Venetian cuisine, especially in the area of Venice and Vicenza. There are different variations depending on the area. The recipe remains almost the same, but differs in the quality of ingredients. For example in the area between Vicenza and Padua the cooks use a variety of Grumolo delle Abbadesse “vialone nano”. In Verona the most famous rice is the one from Isola della Scala .
Rice and peas ingredients for 4 people
Pepper according to taste
Vialone Nano rice 350 gr
1300 ml vegetable broth
Pea pods with 1 kg
Extra virgin olive oil q.s.
Fresh bacon tense 50 gr
Grana Padano cheese 40 gr
Chopped parsley 30 gr
Preparation of rice and peas
To prepare rice and peas first of all prepare a light vegetable broth and leave to cool. Meanwhile shell peas, keeping aside the pods. Once all the pods ae shelled, wash them well under running water and drain well, dip them in the saucepan with the broth, cover with a lid and cook over medium heat for 60 minutes from the boil.
Finished to cook, with a hand blender, blend the pods without removing from the broth to obtain a puree. Pour it into a meshed sieve placed over a bowl. Press well the puree with a spatula to remove the part too fibrous of the pods collecting all the juices. Keep them warm
COOKING THE RICE
Melt in a large pot half of the butter and let soften the onion finely chopped till the onion is golden. It will take about 10-15 minutes over low heat. Add the bacon chopped and the chopped parsley.
Cook for a few minutes and then add the peas and a tablespoon of oil to flavor everything. Pour two tablespoons of broth or hot water, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the broth obtained from the pods and the peas, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Then add the rice and add salt ( 2 little spoons). Cook it until it is “al dente” (taste them and decide when it is not too hard and not too soft) , stirring often with a wooden spoon. After the cooking the texture of rice and peas should be that of a soup, but not too soupy.
Turn off the heat and stir the rice with the other half of the butter. Great the cheese and distribute it over the rice. If you like you can add more chopped parsley and serve hot rice and peas!