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Relishing the Simplicity of Rice and Peas

So simple, so satisfying -- Italian rice and pea soup.

So simple, so satisfying — Italian rice and pea soup.


Peas and rice make more than nice.

Together, they make total comfort in a bowl, too.

In fact, “Rice and Peas” (Risi e Bisi), an almost porridge-like dish of Italian rice, pancetta and peas reminds me very much of Chinese congee. But it’s quicker to make. Yes, imagine that — an Italian version of Chinese jook, if you will.

The recipe is from the wonderful new cookbook, “Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey,” of which I received a review copy. It’s a beautiful coffee-table book. But with fuss-free recipes you will actually make. It’s a collaboration between National Geographic, which provides the photos and narrative about the various regions in Italy, and America’s Test Kitchen, which came up with the recipes.

Read a travel log on each distinctive region of Italy, then get to know it even better by cooking one of its iconic dishes. For instance, “Rosemary Focaccia” from Liguria, Italy’s northern Mediterranean mountainous coastline; “Jewish-Style Artichokes” from Lazio, home to Rome, famed for its thistles; and “Tuna with Sweet and Sour Onions” from Sicily, an area awash in olive groves and citrus trees.


For generations, Venetians have served “Rice and Peas” (Risi e Bisi) on April 25 for St. Mark’s Day to celebrate spring peas and to shine a spotlight on rice producers in the Veneto region.

But nowadays, frozen peas mean you can enjoy this dish anytime.

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