Risi e bisi

 

Green peas on flowered platesShelling peas is a kitchen ritual characteristic of spring. Peas in their pods remind me of neatly planted rows of seeds in the vegetable garden. Homemade risotto made with fresh green peas is my favorite dish. The simple combination of rice and peas is called “risi e bisi” in the Veneto. This risotto is especially well-known in the beautiful cities of Vicenza, Verona and Venice.

I await the arrival of fresh peas at the farmers market. When I see them arranged tidily in wooden crates, I snap a pod and taste the raw peas. If the peas are sweet, smooth and bright green,  I take handfuls of them home to make risotto.

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Mushrooms marinated with truffle

In the dark days of January the earthy appeal of mushrooms is undeniable. Mushrooms provide form, color and texture in the kitchen, supplying much-needed inspiration in the months of scant sunlight. When combined with aromatic herbs, mushrooms yield the most interesting compositions of the season.

The following recipe takes just a few minutes to prepare. However, the ingredients simply must marinate a day to achieve the perfect match between sautéed mushroom juices, truffle olive oil, fresh parsley and pine-like rosemary.

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Golden chanterelle and portobello salad

Early autumn slips quietly past late summer, announcing itself by the appearance of baskets of chanterelle mushrooms arranged on marketplace tables. The chanterelle is decidedly my favorite mushroom, not only for its golden color, but for its graceful shape and velvet texture. Its bright citrus-like flavor blends well with the earthy portobello in an almost effortless salad.

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Summer vegetable salad with bulgur

Bulgur is made of whole wheat. It is first cooked, subsequently dried and then ground into grains of various shapes and sizes. Of all the types of bulgur available, I prefer coarse bulgur when making a summer salad. Bulgur is to be found in Turkish and Moroccan shops and market places. Bulgur is also a part of the regional kitchens of southern Italy and on the island of Sicily. Make the following salad with bulgur a few hours in advance so that all of the juices in the vegetables and their dressing can soak into the grains.

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