Risi e bisi

Peas in their pods remind me of neatly planted rows of seeds, just sown in the vegetable garden. Homemade risotto made with fresh green peas is my favorite food of the spring season. This simple combination is called ‘risi e bisi’ in the Veneto. It is especially well-celebrated in the beautiful cities of Vicenza, Verona and Venice.

I look for the arrival of fresh peas at the farmers market every year. When I spot them arranged tidily in wooden crates, I snap a pod and taste the raw peas; if they are sweet, smooth and bright green,  I take handfuls of them home to make this comforting and vibrant risotto. 

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Red onion broth

One of the most interesting aspects of the Italian kitchen is its inventiveness. This recipe is based upon that very principle because it is made with the scraps of vegetables used for making a wintry tomato sauce or as a base for a root vegetable soup. Rather than get rid of the skins of the onions and the ends of the carrots, I cooked them with the tiniest bit of sea salt. The vegetable broth that came from this experiment is full of flavor and purely Italian in its creative simplicity. Enjoy this wonderfully deep-orange broth with pasta or rice. The necessity for broth cubes suddenly disappears when vegetable scraps are put to use!

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