Torta di Riso
One of my favorite staples at my mother-in-law’s house of late is a rice cake with saffron and zucchini. It is Ligurian in origin, very simple, but packed with flavor and really delicious. I made it for the day that my parents arrived to save myself the trouble of having to cook, giving me more time to spend with them, it was also something that my mother could eat without any problems.
This is a great appetizer to prepare for a party, you can cut it up in to bite sized portions and make a lot with little effort. It also pleases the vegetarian palates as well as the gluten free ones, which sometimes go hand in hand.
Torta di Riso
- Pinch of saffron or one sleeve of powdered saffron
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 or 4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 cup long-grain or arborio rice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
If using saffron threads, stir the saffron into 2 tablespoons hot water in a bowl, and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed ovenproof pan. Add the onion cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the sliced zucchini and brown. Lower the heat, and stir in the rice. Add the saffron, the bay leaf, the salt, freshly ground pepper to taste, and 2 cups water.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed, but the rice is still al dente. Fluff the rice with a fork, removing the bay leaf.*
Transfer to a baking dish, a round 10″ baking dish looks a lot nicer, but a square dish will work as well. Press the rice into the dish and smooth the surface. Add a few small tabs of butter to melt into the rice while baking, you have the option of adding breadcrumbs for extra crunch. Bake for about 20 minute or until the top is golden.
Serve warm from the oven or cold.
*You can make the pilaf up until this point a day in advance, cool and cover.
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