Cooking Rice with an Italian Accent! (17 page)

1½ cups long-grain rice

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the onions in the salted water for ten minutes. Drain, peel, dry, and chop them. In a large, deep skillet, heat butter and oil with sage on moderate heat. Add the wine, mustard, and onions. Stirring, cook on high heat for five minutes. Add flaked tuna, adjust heat to low, and stir for five minutes. Meanwhile, boil rice in slightly salted water for fifteen minutes uncovered. Drain and pour into serving bowl. Cover with onion-tuna sauce. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to table and raise a glass of wine to Neptune.

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FIANO DI AVELLINO, TOCAI FRIULANO

 

Riso e Zucchini Rapido

(QUICK RICE AND ZUCCHINI)

SERVES 4

One evening at my
compare
Sandro's house in Reggio Calabria, we were waiting for his wife Clelia to get home from working overtime in her office. Clelia arrived and told us to get out of her kitchen. I sneaked back in, sat quietly in a corner out of her way, and watched as she cooked this dish. Supper was ready in thirty minutes, and it tasted terrific.

2 tablespoons butter

1 peeled medium onion, diced

1 large clove garlic, crushed

4 young small zucchini, washed and diced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons dry white wine (she used dry vermouth)

1 cup boiling hot chicken broth

2 large eggs, beaten with

4 teaspoons light cream

4 cups water with teaspoon salt

1½ cups long-grain rice

Pinch oregano

Melt butter in a large saucepan on moderate heat. Add onions. Sauté for eight minutes. Add garlic and sauté two minutes. Add zucchini and stir for two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and cook until it evaporates, five minutes. Add boiling hot broth. Stir. Remove from heat. Beat eggs with 2 tablespoons of grated cheese and cream. Add to zucchini and stir vigorously for two minutes. Cook rice in four cups of boiling water for twenty minutes covered. This was actually her first step. She brought water to boil, stirred in rice, adjusted heat to low, and simmered it until done. Dress rice with cooked zucchini. Add pinch of oregano. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons grated cheese and serve.

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VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO, FRASCATI

 

Tortino di Riso

(BAKED RICE CAKE)

SERVES 4

This scrumptious baked rice was served to me as a first course at the home of Geni La Bozzetta Stilo in Reggio Calabria, Italy. I ate two servings and picked at the rest of the meal. It is rich and filling. I serve it as a main course and follow with a simple green salad dressed with fresh lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil.

4 ounces long-grain rice

3 large eggs, beaten with

3 heaping tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ peeled large onion, thinly sliced

1 large peeled clove garlic, crushed

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons butter

Plain bread crumbs

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to pass at table

Preheat the oven to 400°. Boil rice in 4 quarts of water salted with 1 teaspoon salt, uncovered. Cook for eighteen minutes, drain and pour into a large bowl in which you have beaten the eggs with the grated cheese. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet on moderate heat. Sauté onion and garlic for five minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and oregano. Cook uncovered for twenty-five minutes. Set aside. Grease a deep baking dish with butter. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, bottom and sides. Place layer of rice on bottom. Cover with thin slices of mozzarella cheese and a few tablespoons of tomato sauce. Keep on layering rice, cheese, and sauce until all the ingredients are used up. Bake uncovered for twenty minutes. Bring to table immediately and serve. Pass grated cheese.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

NERO D'AVOLA, AGLIANICO

 

Timballo di Riso Giallo

(RING MOLD OF YELLOW RICE)

SERVES 4

Siena is an indescribably beautiful medieval town famous for its annual Palio (a chaotic horse race) and panforte (a delicious dessert bread of figs, dates, and nuts). I was invited to dinner at San Luigi Restaurant in Monteriggioni, a suburb of Siena, where I experienced this
timballo.
I say experienced because seeing and tasting it was as close to a religious experience as I ever had with food. It was June 1, 1993, my fifty-sixth birthday, and God gave me a very special birthday gift: this recipe.

1 large scallion, thinly sliced from white bulb to green tops

4 tablespoons butter

10 ounces of veal, cut into small cubes

7 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for ½ hour in warm water, drained, washed, dried on paper towel, and chopped

1 beef bouillon cube, crushed

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons whole milk

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

11 ounces Arborio rice

½ cup dry white wine

1 quart boiling hot beef stock

2 small packages saffron (0.8 gram) dissolved in:

2 tablespoons hot beef stock

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat butter in a saucepan on gentle heat and sauté scallion for five minutes. Add veal cubes and cook, stirring often, for ten minutes. Add sliced button mushrooms, crushed bouillon cube, and black pepper. Remove from heat and whisk in milk and cream. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, sauté onion for five minutes in olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter on moderate heat. Add rice and stir for three minutes. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Add hot broth, cup by cup, until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice (about eighteen minutes), constantly stirring with wooden spoon. During the last minute, add the disolved saffron and grated cheese. Remove from heat and let rest covered for two minutes.

Grease an angel food baking pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Fill with cooked rice mixture. Press down firmly with wet tablespoon. Dot with remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake for fifteen minutes. Remove from oven and unmold on round, warmed serving dish. Fill the center with mushroom-veal mixture. Garnish with chopped parsley and bring immediately to table.
Paradiso!
(Paradise!)

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BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO, MORELLINO DI SCANSANO

 

Ripieno di Riso

(RICE STUFFING)

This rice stuffing can be used to fill bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage leaves, and even poultry. It is savory and very useful in recipes that require stuffing. The recipe given here is enough to stuff four bell pepper halves or four medium-sized tomatoes. If you need more, simply double or triple the ingredients.

1 teaspoon anchovy paste (comes in a tube like toothpaste—I use Giovanni's Anchovy Paste, Net. Wt. 2 ounces)

1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2 cups water with ½ teaspoon salt

1 cup long-grain rice

4 cloves garlic, peeled

12 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup plain bread crumbs

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Wash the chopped parsley well and drain. Put anchovy paste and parsley in bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse for three seconds. Bring water (2 cups) to a boil. Stir in rice and boil for ten minutes. (The rice will finish cooking in the oven inside of whatever you stuff it in.) Drain and pour in bowl. Meanwhile sauté whole garlic cloves in olive oil in a skillet on moderate heat. Cook until golden brown. Remove and discard. (I mash them on a slice of toasted Italian bread and have a tasty snack.) Add anchovy-parsley paste. Adjust heat to low and cook for one minute. Pour over reserved rice. Add bread crumbs and grated cheese. Mix well. It's a savory stuffing.

Insalate di Riso (Rice Salads)

A rice salad can be served as an appetizer, a main course, a side dish, or as a proper salad. The rice is usually long grained, cooked separately in salted water, drained and served hot, at room temperature or cold.

 

Riso in Insalata con Maionese Verde

(RICE SALAD WITH GREEN MAYONNAISE)

SERVES 4

Varese is a small village close to Lago Maggiore in the northern end of the region of Lombardy. I was invited to dine with relatives of my dear Sicilian friend, Dr. Salvatore Cerniglia. This salad was served as an appetizer to a magnificent meal. It really piqued my appetite.

2 tablespoons small capers

1 small dill pickle

2 ounces pitted green olives

3½-ounce can of tuna packed in olive oil, drained and flaked

11 ounces long-grain rice

1 quart water with 1 teaspoon salt

1 small package frozen spinach cooked to package directions, drained, and squeezed dry

½ cup fresh basil leaves

½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Juice of one lemon

1 cup prepared mayonnaise, regular or low-fat

6 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 small head romaine lettuce, separated, leaves washed and dried

Wash the capers, slice the pickle and slice the the green olives into rounds. Add flaked tuna. Mix all the above in the bottom of a salad bowl. Boil the rice uncovered in the salted water for twenty minutes. Drain and run cold water over it to stop further cooking. Pour into salad bowl and mix with contents on bottom of the bowl. Place spinach, basil, parsley, lemon juice, mayonnaise, oil, and pinches of salt and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add to contents of salad bowl and toss well. Form a small mountain of the contents in a salad bowl or shallow serving dish lined with lettuce leaves. You are in for a treat!

RECOMMENDED WINES:

ARNEIS, PINOT BIANCO

 

Insalata di Riso Freddo

(COLD RICE SALAD)

SERVES 6

I tasted a rice salad in Marietta La Bozzetta's home one day and failed to ask for the recipe. I tried to re-create hers. I couldn't forget how good it was. When I returned from Italy a week later, I invented this rice salad. Everyone, me included, judged it to be a winner. So, here is Papa Joe's rice salad. Marietta let me make it the following year—she said, “That's exactly how I make mine.”

8 cups water salted with 1½ teaspoons salt

4 cups long-grain rice

1 large peeled onion, diced

2 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, flaked

3 ribs celery, diced small

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced small

1 tablespoon small capers, rinsed in cold water and dried with paper towel

1 package frozen peas, completely thawed

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced into rings

1 10-ounce jar pitted green olives, drained and sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ cup olive oil

½ pound mozzarella cheese, diced small

½ pound sharp provolone cheese, diced small

1 jalapeño pepper with seeds, minced

Bring water to boil in a large saucepan. Add rice, stir, and adjust heat to low. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Let stand five minutes. While rice is still warm, add all the other ingredients and mix well in your largest bowl. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. This is a salad that will have them talking.

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