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Risi E Bisi (Italian Rice and Peas)

Risi e Bisi – A flavorful Italian stewed rice with peas, leeks and rice for a quick and easy delicious vegan meal the whole family will love! Recipe can easily be halved.

top down view of freshly made pot of creamy risi e bisi (rice and peas).

What Is Risi e Bisi?

Risi e Bisi (pronounced REE-see ay BEE-see), literally meaning rice and peas and is a classic Venetian dish suited for serving in the spring and winter. It’s somewhat like a risotto but soupier and is considered a thick soup. You should be able to eat it with a fork, but you may rather want to use a spoon to scoop up all the delicious goodness.

As mentioned in this Food & Wine recipe, it is said by the cooks in Venetia that “for each grain of rice there should be a pea”. And I couldn’t agree more!

I enjoyed the simplicity and beauty of this comforting and creamy rice and peas dish in every way. The peas are sweet and pair nicely with the leeks and other flavors from the broth and light seasonings. This recipe makes a large batch so feel free to cut the recipe in half.

This traditional Italian Risi e Bisi recipe is inspired and adapted from NPR Kitchen Window, A Fresh Podcast: Savoring Springs Green Peas, and is especially delicious made with fresh spring green peas.

top down view of ingredients used to make risi e bisi recipe.

Ingredients You’ll Need

In this Italian recipe, rice is stewed with peas until tender and creamy, then served in a bowl with a light dusting of almond parmesan for a hearty and delicious main dish.

Here is everything you will need:

  • vegetable broth (or vegetable paste with water)
  • bay leaves – a thyme sprig would be great too!
  • olive oil – or water for water saute
  • garlic
  • leeks – can sub with onion or shallots
  • arborio rice – or any medium grain rice of choice
  • peas – fresh or frozen
  • parsley
  • mineral salt + pepper
  • nutritional yeast – will add a ‘cheesy’ flavor and is optional
  • almond parmesan

Quinoa option: There is also an option to make this with quinoa in place of rice (see recipe card). It was a delicious experiment and a nice option to using rice.

top down view showingthe process of adding rice to hot pan for toasting.

How To Make Risi E Bisi

  • In a medium saucepan, place the broth/water and bay leaves, bring to a gentle simmer and keep the broth warm.
  • In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and rice, toss until rice is nicely coated, about 3 minutes (shown above).
top down view showing the process of adding broth to hot pan of rice and leeks.
  • Add in warm broth, 1 cup at a time, the stock should be bubbly. Stir often allowing the broth to be just absorbed. Add in another cup of broth, repeat until 6 cups have been used.
top down view showing the process of adding peas to rice and broth in black pot with wooden spoon.
  • Add in peas, and remaining stock and continue to cook for another 15 minutes or so, or until the rice is al dente, stirring frequently until rice tender but chewy.
  • Lastly, stir in nutritional yeast to taste.

Time tip: The whole cooking process should be about 25 – 30 minutes.

top down view of parsley add to freshly pot full of risi e bisi.
  • Once done, your rice and peas should be a little soupy, but will thicken upon standing.
  • Remove from heat, taste for seasoning and stir in parsley (as shown above).

And now your stewed rice and peas is ready!

Less Hands-On Method:

After sauteing the leeks and rice as above. Add at least 7 – 8 cups broth, peas, bay leaves and nutritional yeast, bring to a boil, cover and cook for 20 – 25 minutes until rice is tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat add in parsley. Let set a few minutes and serve as desired.

side angle view of freshly made pot of creamy risi e bisi with wooden spoon.

How To Store Leftovers

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 day, in a covered container.
  • Freezer: This Risi e Bisi is freezer friendly and freezes well for up to 2 – 3 months. To freeze, let cool completely and store in freezer safe containers (affiliate link), leaving 1/2 inch head space for expansion. You can also freeze larger portions in large ziplock (remove as much air as possible before zip locking). Let thaw before reheating.
  • Reheat: Simply re-warm on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through, adding more water or broth as needed to make a stew like consistency. Alternatively, reheat in the microwave using 30 – 60 second intervals, stirring after each, until warm.

Serving Suggestions

This delicious creamy risi e bisi is great alone, but can be made even better with a few of these serving options:

top down view of a bowl with serving of healthy risi e bisi with items surrounding.

More Comfort Food Recipes!

If you try this risi e bisi recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

Print

Risi E Bisi (Italian Rice and Peas)

Risi e Bisi (rice and peas) is a classic, comfort food style Italian recipe ready in about 30 minutes!

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 – 6 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: simmer
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Italian

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 810 cups low-sodium vegetable broth OR water (or a combo)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or 1/4 cup water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 medium leeks, thinly sliced or 1 medium onion or 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 cups (1 lb.) Arborio rice (Carnaroli or Vialone Nano works too)
  • 4 cups (or 2 10oz. packages) peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped and loosely packed
  • mineral salt + pepper, to taste
  • 1/41/3 cup nutritional yeast, or to taste (optional)
  • almond parmesan, for topping (not shown)

Instructions

Warm broth: In a medium saucepan, place the broth/water and bay leaves, bring to a gentle simmer and keep broth warm.

Saute: In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and rice, toss until rice is nicely coated, about 3 minutes.

Slowly add liquids: Add in warm broth, one 1 cup at a time, the stock should be bubbly. Stir often allowing the broth to be just absorbed. Add in another 1 cup of broth, repeat until 6 cups have been used. Add in peas, and remaining stock and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another 15 minutes or so, or until the rice is al dente, tender but chewy. The whole process should be about 25 – 30 minutes.

Add Parsley: Once done, the rice and peas should be a little soupy. Remove from heat, stir in the optional nutritional yeast and parsley. Season to taste with plenty of salt and pepper.

Serve topped with a nice dusting of almond parmesan and freshly cracked pepper.

Less Hands-On Method:

  • After sauteing the leeks and rice as above.
  • Add at least 7 – 8 cups broth, peas, bay leaves, bring to a boil, cover and cook for 20 – 30 minutes until rice is tender.
  • Remove from heat add in parsley. Let set a few minutes and serve as desired.

Serves 4 – 6

Store: Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 days in a covered container. To store longer, freeze in freezer safe containers for up to 2 – 3 months. Let thaw before reheating.

Notes

Finished photos in the post reflect using 8 cups of water, add the remaining 2 cups of water for a soupier risi e bisi.

If you were thinking about subbing quinoa for the rice, go ahead, it’s delicious (this is actually my preferred grain, I love everything about it…but then this dish isn’t called Risi E Bisi). Top with Almond Parmesan and you’re good to go. Truly wonderful!

How make with quinoa:

  • In large pot, heat oil and saute leeks, about five minutes. Add 2 cups rinsed quinoa and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add 7 cups broth and bay leaves, bring to a boil. Add in peas, do not stir, cover and simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes. Test quinoa for tenderness by tasting.
  • Turn off heat, stir in optional nutritional yeast, and let set for about 10 – 15 minutes until broth is mostly absorbed. It will thicken upon standing, add more warm broth as needed for desired soupiness. Remove bay leaves. Toss in parsley, taste for seasoning, and serve.

This method with the quinoa will leave you with wonderful leftovers. Quinoa holds up well and reheats beautifully the next day.

Updated: Risi e Bisi was originally published in May 2013. It has been retested and updated with new photos and helpful tips in February 2020. Recipe has stayed the same and is still delicious!

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15 Comments

  1. Gita St John says:

    Hello Julie
    I love the recipe and wonder if you have the recipe adapted to an instant pot one? If yes would you email it to me. I plan to cook for my church gathering (around 70 people). That will be easier for me. Another question; can I use basmati instead of risotto rice? Thank you 🙏

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Great questions, Gita St John! I have not adapted this recipe for an Instant Pot, so I can’t help there. For the rice, you can use basmati rice in place of risotto. I hope that helps and everyone enjoys the recipe!

  2. Anita Wahler says:

    I have not made the dish yet, but may do it with a mixture of black and brown rice (I don’t use white), or maybe quinoa. However, I noticed that the quinoa comment says to stir in nutritional yeast, but that ingredient is not named anywhere else, and no amount is given. Fix? Or let me know what I missed.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Great question, Anita! I’ve updated the recipe card to include nutritional yeast to be stirred in at the end to taste. Do let us know how you liked the recipe! Enjoy :)

  3. I'm definitely making this for dinner today or tomorrow. =)

    Question, though. Is there a significant taste or texture difference between the regular and quick methods?

    Thanks!

    1. I honestly don't know. But I can't imagine it being that big of a difference since they both cook about the same amount of time. I only tried it by adding the stock in little by little but will most likely use the quick version method from now on.

  4. The Vegan Cookie Fairy says:

    julie, this is WICKED!!! I have a passionate love affair with peas, and I don't mind at all that they're frozen. Fresh is great, but who has the time to shell 4lbs of peas?? I'm totally making this for lunch today, I've got pretty much all the ingredients. Thanks for this great recipe!

  5. Anonymous says:

    YUM! Risotto is my favorite! This look delish! I had a quinoa risotto "Quinotto" as they called it at a great Peruvian restaurant in Miami.
    This has got me craving it. Love your recipes, and how they get the creative juices flowing. My kitchen is a happier place now!

    My family from Italy will arrive next month, I wonder how long it will take them to realize they are eating vegan? :)

    Grazie Mille!

    1. I love it! 'Quinotto'….I will have to keep that mind for future quinoa risotto's.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Makes my day!

      Enjoy your family time and maybe they will never even realize it's all vegan! Cheers :)

  6. This is particularly pleasing my tastebuds right now, looks beyond delicious..A simple dish loaded with flavor. I've never had fresh peas! Maybe I'll get a friend or someone to help shell 'em out :)

  7. The Yogi Vegetarian says:

    Just my cup of tea! I will definitely be giving this a try, with the almond parmesan too- thanks for sharing!

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