Rice has a special space in my heart. It reminds me my childhood and my home town in Italy.
I remember that my grandma had a friend who owned a rice farm (“risaia”) in the Piemonte region. Every time this very kind lady came to visit grandma, she used to bring with her as a gift a huge fabric bag of “Good” rice. I have always been fascinated by the brown fabric used as a rice packaging: it had a thick rural look with one color prints on it. I wish they still used them 😉
I still remember my grandma’s risotto. wow. Creamy and full of flavors. Her specialty was the Italian sausage risotto with Parmesan cheese. Simply delicious.
Risotto is the very traditional dish in Northern Italy, there are tons of different recipes using fish, meat or vegetables. The kind of rice, indeed, is always the same: either Carnaroli or Arborio rice. Thanks to the quantity of starch and to the texture of the grain that, once cooked, will have a very soft surface but a firm core, these two rice varieties are PERFECT for risotto. And, I would add, for many other recipes….like the vegetable rice pie I cooked today 🙂
Following the spring weather I used rice with zucchini, fresh thyme and ricotta. A nice, delicate and tasty mix. For the crust I decided to go for a light option using phillo pastry: crunchy on top and very thin and soft at the bottom. Perfect for little toddlers’ palates.
The rice&zucchini pie is wonderful if served warm, but I really like it cold too.
This is all you will need for 6/8 servings:
And that’s how to prepare it:
– preheat the oven at 400F/180C.
– fill a big pot with water. Let it boil. When the water is boiling add the rice and let it cook for 10 minutes. Drain.
– Finely grate the zucchini
– in a big sauté pan add two/three tablespoons of grape seeds oil and turn the heat on at medium. Add the diced onions, stir and let them cook for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and adjust with a pinch of salt.
– Stir and cook the zucchini for 8/10 minutes. You want the zucchini to release their water and dry out nicely.
– Meanwhile place 5/6 phyllo pastry sheets on a flat surface. Lightly brush every sheet with some grape seeds oil and layer them one after the other in a ceramic baking pan
– In a big bowl mix the rice, the milk, the ricotta cheese, the minced fresh thyme, the grated pecorino cheese, the eggs and the zucchini. Stir.
– Place the zucchini&rice mix in the ceramic baking pan. Level the surface and “close” the phillo pastry on top of the rice mix forming a rim.
– bake the zucchini&rice pie in the oven for 40 minutes.