Rice and peas (and broad beans) – Italian style


What to do with the lovely organic broad beans and peas fresh from the farm? This dish is a version of Risi e Bisi – traditional Venetian rice and peas. Like a slightly soupy risotto, but not requiring the constant stirring. 

The recipe is adapted from one by Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter – it’s designed (pragmatically) for frozen peas but you could use a combo of fresh peas and fresh broad beans supplemented by frozen peas depending on what quantities you have. If you don’t have a leek, use a bit more onion. Some chopped leafy greens (chard, spinach or young curly kale) could go in towards the end of the cooking time. 


  • 400g combination of peas and broad beans, fresh and/or frozen
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200g risotto rice (e.g. arborio)
  • 1 litre good vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan, or more to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley or chives
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 25g extra butter and extra stock (both optional)


  1. If you’re using fresh peas and broad beans, remove from their pods and set the peas/beans aside. Heat the stock in a saucepan, add the pods/casings to the stock and simmer for 10 mins or so to boost the stock flavour. Then discard the pods.
  2. Melt the butter with the oil in a heavy-based large pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and leek, then cook gently for about 10 minutes without colouring.
  3. Add the garlic and rice and stir with the onion mix for 2 minutes. Season well and add the stock to the rice. If using fresh peas and beans, add them now. Bring to a simmer and cook slowly for 5 mins or so.
  4. Stir in the frozen peas, if using, and bring back up to a simmer. Cook over a low heat for another 10‑15 minutes, or until the rice is just cooked.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the parmesan and herbs. Stir and season well. An extra knob of butter can be stirred through at this point and more stock may be added for a more soupy finish.