When you think of traditional Venetian cuisine, "Risi e Bisi" is definitely the first dish that comes to mind. A typical dish of Venetian, Vicentine and Veronese cuisine, it is made with rice and peas. The history of this recipe is very old; in fact, the dish is also known as the "first course of the Doge", as it was served at the Doge's banquet on St Mark's Day. Let's discover this ancient recipe together. 

Risi e bisi: its description and its history


There are dozens of rice dishes in the Veneto culinary tradition: from the delicious risotto with Amarone, a fine red wine produced in Valpolicella, to the surprising risotto coi go', prepared with ghiozzi, small fishes from the lagoon. However, the first course par excellence is undoubtedly "risi e bisi", that is rice and peas. The variety of rice used for this dish, which is also the most characteristic variety in the region, is Vialone Nano, a semi-fine rice suitable for preparing risottos and soups. What distinguishes this risotto, and all risottos from Veneto generally, from those of other regions is its consistency, neither too thick nor too liquid. 

The recipe for this dish is ancient as it was the first traditional dish served at the Doge's banquet on the 25th of April to celebrate the city's patron saint, St Mark. "Risi e bisi" thus became a dish to celebrate the arrival of spring, as peas are the legume of the season in spring. However, it is possible that the origin of the dish is even older and linked to the Byzantines, with whom Venice had intense trade, and who used to create dishes based on rice combined with other ingredients, such as a wide variety of vegetables. 

In the Vicenza area, the dish is prepared with typical local ingredients such as rice from Grumolo delle Abbadesse and peas from Lumignano, with the addition of an ingredient: bacon.

Risi e bisi recipe

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 300 g Vialone Nano rice
  • 1 kg fresh peas
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 40 g butter
  • olive oil
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

 Preparation time: 1 hour

Preparation of risi e bisi


1. First of all, shell the peas and set the pods aside.

2. Once all the pods have been shelled, wash the peas under running water and drain them.

3. Start cooking the peas on the fried garlic and onion.

4. Meanwhile, prepare a vegetable stock with the carrot, celery and pods.

5. When the peas are almost ready, add the rice and the appropriate amount of stock.

6. Cook the rice al dente, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.

7. At the end of the cooking time, the consistency should be quite liquid, but not too brothy.

8. When the rice is cooked, turn off the flame and mix with butter and grated cheese.