Vegetarian Oven-Baked Rice Timbale
Rice Timbale is a very beloved dish from my childhood. I remember coming home from school and I could smell the tomatoey, cheesy rice getting baked and crispy in the oven. The thing I loved the most, was having the leftover rice the next day: my mum would melt some butter on a pan and then sauté the rice in it for double crispiness!
This is basically a savoury pie and the original recipe would involve rice, tomato, mozzarella, parmesan and usually mince meat, carrot, celery and onion. I made it vegetarian by preparing a mushroom ragout and it was so very tasty!
The beauty of this dish is also that it can be prepared in advance because it is excellent lukewarm, when the ingredients have compacted and can be cut as if it were a cake.
Note for the grated cheese I used Caciocavallo - a Sicilian salty hard cheese typical of my hometown, Ragusa. But you can replace with pecorino, parmigiano reggiano or grana padano.
Ingredients (for 2)
200g Carnaroli rice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more to drizzle on top
1 onion, minced finely
2 stalks celery, minced finely
1 large carrot, minced finely
400g tomato polpa (chunky tomato sauce) or chopped tomatoes
A splash of white wine (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
A few knobs butter
Grated Caciocavallo cheese
2 tbsp pangrattato
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add a teaspoon of oil and cook the rice for 1-2 minutes less than its required cooking time. Drain and spread out on a wide plate with a knob of butter to let the steam escape.
In the meantime, make a 'soffritto' for the ragout. Heat the oil in a pan, then add the onion and sauté till golden. Next, add the carrot, celery and mushrooms, along with a splash of wine. Increase the flame to let the alcohol evaporate, then reduce it to medium.
Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, add half glass of water and cook until the sauce has thickened and the oil separated.
Pre-heat the oven to 220C.
Mix the rice and the ragout, adding a couple of spoons of grated cheese and some butter. Transfer the rice to a baking dish, cover with more grated cheese, breadcrumbs, a drizzle of oil, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until a nice crust has formed on the top.
Enjoy immediately, or at room temperature. Buon appetito!
Word of the Day
(finely minced, sautéed onions, carrots and celery preparation that is the base for many Italian recipes, pronounced sof·frìt·to)