Arborio rice, not cream, gives comfort

March 26, 1997|By Charlotte Balcomb Lane | Charlotte Balcomb Lane,KNIGHT-RIDDER TRIBUNE

Risi e bisi, or Italian rice and peas, has all the attributes necessary to qualify as adult comfort food. It's warm, soft and creamy-tasting and quite filling. Yet unlike most comfort foods, this one is low in fat. Just 13 percent of the calories in this cool-weather dish comes from fat.

This streamlined version of a traditional northern Italian dish is made with just one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil and a quarter-cup of Parmesan cheese, but no cream. It tastes creamy because it's made with arborio rice, a short-grained variety grown in Italy. The extra starch in arborio gives it a creamy texture when cooked. You have to stir the rice frequently as it cooks and add liquid in increments, which gives the dish a gooey -- but not mushy -- consistency.

Risi e bisi makes a delicious meal for four (with plenty of leftovers for lunch) when served with a green salad and some whole wheat bread.

Risi e bisi

Makes 7 servings

2 (14 1/2 -ounce) cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth or 3 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press

2 cups dry arborio rice

1 teaspoon salt

5 sun-dried tomatoes, softened in water and chopped

1/2 cup dry sherry or dry white wine

1 (10-ounce) box frozen green peas

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Combine the broth and water and bring to a boil. Set aside.

In a large kettle, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the rice, salt and sun-dried tomatoes and saute for 1 minute, stirring to coat evenly with the butter and oil mixture. Add the sherry or dry white wine and stir constantly until it comes to a boil and is absorbed by the rice. Add about 1 cup of the broth mixture and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Keep adding the hot broth by one-cup increments, stirring frequently. Just before adding the last cup of broth, stir in the peas.

When all the broth has been added, stir in the Parmesan cheese and the balsamic vinegar.

Serve immediately.

Per serving: 348 calories; 4.8 g fat, (13 percent of calories from fat); 9.8 g protein, 60 g carbohydrate; 7 mg cholesterol; 705 mg sodium.)

Pub Date: 3/26/97

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