This recipe of Farro and Peas adopts the flavor of the classic Venetian dish Risi e Bisi ( rice and peas) but swaps the rice for farro, adding more nutrition, nutty flavor, and a great chewy texture to the final dish. Fresh spring peas are typically used for the Italian dish but for our farro and peas I used frozen peas.
In the past this dish was only prepared on feast days decreed by the Doge (Venice’s ruler). In the days of the Republic of Venice, Risi e Bisi was the first dish served at the dinner given by the Doges each April 25 in honor of San Marco, the patron saint of Venice. Italians ,being Italian and knowing great food, decided that such a great tasting dish shouldn’t just be saved for a special occasion. So today, Italians make Risi e Bisi whenever the mood strikes them.
No one else in Italy cooks rice in so many ways as the Venetians and northern Italians. I remember when my cousin Attilio from Trieste, Italy came to visit , I told him how much I loved risotto.
He answered, “. . . con (with)?”
I was a little confused, I repeated, ” Risotto!”
“Ma risotto con cosa ( But risotto with what)?”
Italians have countless dishes combining rice with every vegetable imaginable along with all types of meat, fish or poultry. So when they speak of risotto they include “con” plus the other main ingredients.
Now to be truthful, I hadn’t intended to make the Farro and Peas – I had meant to make the actual Italian Risi e Bisi. . .unfortunately I had to go to plan “B” since I didn’t have the main ingredient, risotto rice. I didn’t find this out until we had returned from the beach and we were too tired to run to the store.
It had been a long day. Honey had spent the entire day fishing without getting one single bite. I was sitting in my beach chair planning the evening’s menu, reading up on Lightroom and working with my camera. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted an egret slowly approaching my bag. Those beady little eyes were keeping close tabs on me. I’m sure he thought I was harmless enough since I was fooling around with a little black box that had dials, buttons and a big eye. Anyway, with that little black box I was able to get a quick shot of him. I really hadn’t needed to be quick about it. The bird was not easily scared off. . . he stuck around for the whole day hoping he could get some kind of freebie.
We certainly weren’t disappointed in our Plan B. The Farro and peas recipe had the texture of a risotto without the work. It came together fairly quickly and then it just simmered on its own. It’s a good thing because after being gone all day we were hungry and were looking forward to a relaxing meal.
We served the Farro and Peas with our Spicy Bourbon Barbecued Grilled Chicken. We warmed up some of the leftover Farro and Peas the next day and the dish was still delicious.
Tutti a tavola è pronto!
Un caro saluto e alla prossima.
Farro and Peas ( Risi e Bisi)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup dry farro
- 3/4 cup diced onion
- 3/4 cup sliced carrot
- 2 Tablespoons garlic
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen young green peas thawed
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper
- Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high. Stir in farro, onion, carrot, and garlic; cook until onion softens, 3-4 minutes.
- Deglaze pan with wine and reduce until it nearly evaporates. Stir in broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook farro until tender and broth is absorbed, 20-30 minutes.
- Stir in peas and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with additional Parmesan to sprinkle on top.
- Adapted from "Farro & Peas" Celebrate the Season, Issue 8, Feb/March 2016
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