What do you do when your husband ditches you for a rehearsal on Friday night, but you haven’t bothered to make other plans? Normally I might scour my cookbooks for an interesting recipe and run out to the store for ingredients, but I was just feeling altogether too lazy to leave the house. Meanwhile, Dylan was planning to be home at 9 and it seemed like a good idea to have some dinner ready to go that point. (I mean, we sometimes eat late, but anything past 9 just seems excessive.) What could I come up with that was both interesting and new, yet didn’t require any unusual ingredients that wouldn’t already be in our limited pantry?
Risi e Bisi seemed the perfect answer. An Italian dish which is essentially a slightly soupier risotto, Risi e Bisi’s main ingredients are simply arborio rice and peas (frozen in our case, though fresh is no doubt better). Strangely, most of our Italian cookbooks seemed not to include this easy dish, but recipes for it were all over the internet. I have no particular fondness for Rachael Ray and find her as annoying as the next person does, but her version seems to be the fastest and required no extra ingredients (like pancetta), so I went with that. Couldn’t be simpler. I think mine may have ended up a little less soupy than is customary, but it was quite tasty anyway, especially when served with a hunk of that delicious New York Times No-Knead bread . I just love that stuff.
Risi e Bisi (serves 2-3, or 4 small side dish portions)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 to 4 cups chicken stock, 1 quart size box
1/4 to 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup tiny frozen peas
Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and onion and saute, stirring constantly 2 to 3 minutes. Then add rice and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook another minute or so, then add wine and let it completely absorb, 30 seconds. Add about 1 cup chicken stock and stir. Reduce heat a bit to medium. Stir often and continue adding a half cup of liquid each time liquid becomes completely absorbed. Cook 22 minutes, using as much stock as is necessary to result in creamy-consistency rice with a bite to it.When rice is cooked to desired consistency, remove from heat and stir in cheese, parsley and peas and stir to combine and to heat peas through.