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risi e bisi  

springtime rice with peas 

serves 4

generous 2 lbs (1 kg) peas in the pod

5 1/2 cups (1300 ml) vegetable broth

4 Tbs (60 g ca) butter

new spring onions or 1 small white onion, finely chopped

1.7 oz (50 g) rigatino or pancetta (unsmoked bacon), in small cubs

1 3/4 cups (350 g) vialone nano or other short grain rice (carnaroli, arborio)

extra virgin olive oil

small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1.5 oz (40 g) grated parmigiano

salt, white pepper

garden bounty

Make a light vegetable broth by boiling carrots, celery, onion, parsley, etc. in salted water for about an hour.

Shuck the peas keeping the pods. Rinse the pods and boil them in 5 1/2 cups of vegetable broth, covered, for 30 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender and pass the puréed pods through a sieve to remove the fibrous parts. Keep warm or rewarm before using it.

In a high sided casserole melt half butter with the finely chopped onion and sautée just until translucent, add the chopped pancetta and cook for a few minutes until the fat is translucent and just begins to brown at the edges. Add the peas, a bit of extra virgin olive oil and 2 ladles of hot water or vegetable broth and boil for 5 minutes. Add the pea pod purée and bring to a boil, add the rice and stir. Let the rice bubble gently until the rice is al dente and the whole thing is brothy but not as loose as soup.

Remove from the heat (the rice will continue to cook and to absorb liquid), season with salt if necessary and white pepper, stir in the butter, parsley, grated cheese and a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.  It should be quite loose, al onda / like a wave. Eat it hot with a spoon.

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