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Recipe

Venetian rice and peas

From A Year at Hotel Gondola (incidentally about a 50-year-old food writer who heads to Venice, falls in love and grapples to meet her publisher’s deadlines!), this dish is incredible – salty, sweet, soupy and pure comfort.

By Nici Wickes
  • 30 mins cooking
  • Serves 2 - 3
  • Print
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This week at New Zealand Woman's Weekly, we're celebrating Weekly columnist and author Nicky Pellegrino ahead of the launch of her new novel A Dream of Italy. I adore Nicky's books and while her stories are fictitious, the recipes are the real deal. I've selected some favourites and tweaked them just a little to suit our Kiwi kitchens. Delizioso!
- Nici Wickes, Food Editor

Ingredients

  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 100 g pancetta, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • tiny pinch of dried chilli
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • 800 g peas in pod, podded (or 2 cups frozen peas, thawed)
  • 100 g sugar snap peas, diced
  • 100 g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Method

  • 1
    Put the chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the saffron.
  • 2
    Fry the onion, garlic and pancetta in the oil until the onion is soft, being careful not to brown it. Add the rice and fry for a minute, stirring to coat it in the oil. While stirring, slowly add the stock, one ladle at a time, allowing it to absorb before adding more. You will most likely need more liquid, so boil the kettle or make an extra stock by boiling the empty pea pods in water. Add a pinch of chilli, black pepper and taste, then add salt if needed (pancetta and store-bought chicken stock are both salty, so more may not be required).
  • 3
    Once the rice is very nearly soft, add the podded peas and the diced sugar snap peas, allowing them to cook until the peas are barely tender. The finished dish should have a slightly soupy consistency, so don't worry if the liquid hasn't all been absorbed.
  • 4
    Remove from the heat, stir in the grated Parmesan and serve. If you're feeling indulgent, you could also stir in a chunk of butter.

Notes

To thaw peas quickly, place in a colander and run under hot water for 30 seconds.

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