Sunday, October 4, 2015

Recipe Sunday: A DELICIOUS Veggie Rice Bake

This morning, I thought, I haven't had a vegetable since Thursday.  Hmm.

I had bought ingredients for the dish that I read about in this blog post.  I had several hours before heading out for our Sunday plans.  I thought, why not?

As I was cooking, however, I felt grumpy.  I thought, this is a lot of work, a lot of thin slicing, a lot of dirty dishes.  I thought, this takes longer than I thought it would, and I'm hungry now.  When I slid it in the oven to bake, I thought, I am never making this again.

But then, I had a serving.  I thought, I am too making this again.  I ate another serving.  I could eat the whole pan.

The blog post writer says, "I found it [the recipe] in yet another of my mother's cookbooks, you know, the ones with no author, the ones you'd normally see in a grocery store instead of a bookstore and pass on by without a second glance. This particular one was published by La Repubblica, the newspaper, and is part of a series on regional Italian cooking. The region in this case, Sicily."

Here's the recipe, which would be delicious for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

I made these modifications:  I had no capers, so I left them out.  I had no tomatoes, not fresh or canned, so I used 1/4 c of leftover tomato sauce.  I doubled the cheese.  I used 2 red peppers, since that's what I had.

I am surprised that the rice is tender; I was sure there wouldn't be enough liquid.  But it's amazingly good.

Riso al Forno alla Siciliana
Serves 6

320 grams Arborio rice (I used 1 cup plus 3 T.)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the dish
150* grams caciocavallo or provolone, grated  (I used a mix of provolone, asiago, and mozzarella)
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 small eggplants or 1 large one, halved and sliced
3 plum tomatoes, cored and sliced into thin strips
2 tablespoons salted capers, soaked and rinsed
1/4 cup cured black olives, pitted
Red pepper flakes, to taste
8 basil leaves

*150 grams is 5.2 oz.  I used more, at least double, plus a smidge more

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the rice and lower the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain the rice. Place the rice in a bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir in 50 grams of grated cheese. Set aside.

2. Place the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, then add the onions, peppers and eggplant. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Then lower the heat to low, cover and stew for 10 minutes.

3. Remove the lid and add the tomatoes. Stir well, then cover again and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

4. Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium-high, add the capers, olives, red pepper flakes and basil leaves. Stir well and cook for a few minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Oil a baking dish.  (I used a 9 x 13 inch pan, which worked just fine)

6. Place half the rice in the dish evenly. Distribute half the vegetable mixture over the rice evenly. Top with half of the remaining grated cheese. Repeat with the remaining rice, vegetables and cheese. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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