Fresh peas have just come into season in Italy, as spring arrives with an outburst of flowers and birdsong. This is the time to eat rice with fresh vegetables as they do in the Veneto.
Risi e bisi, which simply means rice and peas in the Venetian dialect, is the most famous of all risotti from the region. In the days of the Venetian Republic, it was served before the Doge on 25 April, the feast of Saint Mark and Venetian national day.
Like all risotti, it’s quite simple but needs care and attention while cooking. You should add the liquid little by little and never stop stirring to ensure that the rice is cooked evenly. Use a high-sided saucepan, and a wooden spatula which can get right into the corners of the pan while stirring.
In the Veneto, risotti are served all’onda which literally means ‘on the waves’. In fact, it means with quite a lot of liquid, rather like the city of Venice itself.
My version is made with Prosecco, the best of which comes from the hills of Valdobbiadene, about 50 miles to the north-west of Venice. It makes a luxurious accompaniment to the dish, but you could use any white wine from the region.