Monday, June 18, 2012
Italian Baked Rice for International Picnic Day
It's International Picnic Day - what a perfect celebration for June!
I could have served an American-style picnic today, complete with fried chicken and potato salad. But I thought that "international picnic day" should be interpreted not as a universal day for picnics, but rather as a day for a meal filled with foods from around the world.
So my international backyard picnic lets us travel to Italy with a baked rice and cheese dish that is reminiscent of risotto, but requires less attention. Dream of Morocco with fragrant spiced carrots. Enjoy vibrant Mongolian seared beef, complemented with some simple feta-topped grilled vegetables, then finish the meal with light and tender Hungarian sour cream cookies. Add a bottle of Spanish wine, and the picnic is complete!
Since I served so many lovely foods at my picnic, I'm going to make them the focus of this week's posts. Today I'll share the recipe for Bomba di Riso [BOHM-bah dee REE-soh], the rich rice dish, with the other recipes to follow in subsequent days.
To make this casserole - which could easily serve as an entree, served with fruit and salad - all you need to do is cook some rice, stir in some eggs and cheese, and bake ... that's it! It's a great change from plain ol' rice or potatoes, and there's a hint of nutmeg to offer an exotic nuance. Some fresh spring peas or asparagus would be a lovely addition, stirred into the rice before baking.
Bomba di Riso
(very slightly adapted from Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen by Joyce Goldstein, from my good friend Mary Schuman)
1-1/4 cups white rice (Arborio preferred)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
very generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into small dice
1/8 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 1-quart casserole dish.
Prepare the rice according to package directions. Remove from heat, then stir in eggs, shredded Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Place half of the rice mixture into the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Spread the ricotta over the rice, then top with the mozzarella. Spread the rest of the rice mixture over the top, then sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
Bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and starting to turn golden.
Serves 6-8 as a side dish.
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