I know the title of this post must seem unbelievably lame. But I can’t help it. It’s all my warm, fuzzy brain can muster after eating this delicious rice dish and then sinking back onto the couch, under my favourite blanket in the world, in our cozy little living room in our cozy little house. Outside, winter rages.
Well … okay … maybe not rages, but it’s definitely winter. It’s snowy and cold and all the things that winter should be.
But in here it’s warm and fuzzy, thanks in good part to a dish that was made for a night just like this: baked rice.
I’ve been thinking about rice a lot lately. Just a few weeks ago I was pondering the relaxing qualities of making risotto. It’s practically a recipe for virtue and meditation. Think about it. Cooking the tiniest grains of rice, slowly slowly slowly. Pouring in ladle fulls of hot broth, one ladle at a time, slowly slowly slowly. Waiting for the little grains to swell, almost to bursting, slowly slowly slowly.
No wonder everyone loves risotto!
But imagine if you could make a risotto, but not have to stir it all the time. Imagine that you could put all the ingredients together, pop it into a warm oven, and then curl up on the couch for some well-deserved beauty sleep?
"But my rice would burn!" you exclaim.
For the aroma of this dish will pull you out of your slumber as soon as it’s ready. It’s that irresistible!
I have Patricia Wells to thank for this rice dish. Looking through her cookbook, Trattoria, I came across this recipe and remembered having baked rice often when I was much younger. But we don’t seem to eat rice as much these days. After work dinners tend to be quick and Sundays, especially in winter, seem to be reserved for more elaborate dishes often featuring fresh pasta.
Those poor little grains of rice get so lonely.
But Ms. Wells has helped me to rediscover them. Her recipe for baked rice with tomato sauce and pecorino (sheep’s milk cheese) seemed like just the thing. So I mixed it all up, put it into one of my prettiest baking dishes, popped it in our little oven and then snuggled up on the couch for a nap.
And all the while it baked, slowly slowly slowly.
And in the end, it was yummy yummy yummy.
Baked Rice with Tomato and Pecorino Romano
Inspired by Patricia Wells’ Trattoria.
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 2 cups chicken stock (you can use water if you don’t have stock, but be sure to season the rice well before putting it in the oven if you do use water)
- 1 cup cooked tomato sauce
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated (Pecorino Romano is an Italian sheep’s milk cheese)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano
- 2 to 3 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large pan, heat the olive oil and then add the rice.
- Stir the rice for about a minute, until it is coated in oil.
- Add the chicken stock and tomato sauce and cook over medium high heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. (If you’ve used water, you may want to add a bit of salt or pepper.)
- Let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add half the Pecorino Romano and stir.
- Pour the rice mixture into a large baking dish (mine is oval and roughly 12 inches by 6 inches). Sprinkle with the remaining Pecorino Romano. If your dish has a lid, cover it or cover the dish with aluminum foil.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. After about 30 minutes, check on your rice just to be sure that it hasn’t dried out. When the rice is done, it will be creamy, but not soup or too dry.
- When the rice is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for a minute or two. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano Reggiano and the parsley and then serve.
Note: This dish will serve 3 to 4 people.