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Risi i Bisi (Rice and peas)

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It’s hump day, so I thought I might share a quick recipe that always pleases everyone in our house. I think this is probably a traditional Italian risotto, but it has evolved into our most basic rice dish.  It is not exactly a WWII dish, but it is definitely in the spirit of it.

Using a nice size pot with a lid, take about ¾ cup of finally chopped onion, more if you like lots of onion, and sauté in a slug of olive oil with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Pre-measure your rice and boil the kettle so the water is hot. I think one cup of Arborio/pudding rice would do it for four people, assuming no leftovers . Add a clove or two of finely chopped garlic, depending on how much rice you add and how much you like garlic. (I usually add about one clove per cup of dry rice.) As soon as you can smell the garlic, throw in your rice, otherwise the garlic might start to burn. Sauté the rice dry for a minute or two over low heat, then add in enough hot water to just cover the rice. Give it a few stirs and put the lid on. Peek after four minutes, add more hot water to cover, stir a few times and close the lid. Do this about every four minutes until the rice is finished. When you go to add your last bit of hot water, add in your thawed peas. Throw in as many as you like, but between ½ cup to one cup per cup of dry rice is a good rule of thumb. It is usually around here where I can gauge how hungry people are and I adjust the amount of peas accordingly. If you add thawed peas with the hot water at the last step, they should finish cooking at the same time as the rice. If your peas aren’t thawed, then you have to add them earlier, but I’ve never been able to guarantee that they don’t turn that overcooked yellowish color.

To top the risotto, stir in a small knob of real butter and some grated hard cheese, like Parmesan. Alternately, add another slug of olive oil and a few pinches of salt if you don’t have any cheese about. You can also top with sautéed mushrooms. Add a vegetable soup and a steamed veggie side, and you have dinner.


About Kara

I am what happens when you combine a WWII enthusiast, an environmentalist and a frugal celiac/coeliac.

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