During the winter, I wrote a post about rice pudding and how I find it one of the most comforting dishes imaginable. A mere spoonful of rice pudding will cure whatever ails me and I suspect that it’s the same for so many other who enjoy this dish.

For this reason, as I looked through Jamie Oliver’s beautiful cookbook, Jamie’s Italy, I could not help but be drawn to the recipe for Torta di Riso. Imagine a rice pudding or risotto baked in a tart shell and you will begin to see what Torta di Riso is. I’ve seen recipes for rice cakes as dessert before, but I’d never seen a recipe for rice baked in a tart shell. And of course I knew right away that I’d have to try it.

What I did not know, nor could I have foreseen, was how quickly April would fly by! While I had initially resolved to try so many recipes for Jamie’s Italy, the fact is I’ve only been able to try a handful. But no matter. That handful has more than convinced me of the beauty and worthiness of this cookbook.

Never mind the gorgeous photos, the book is filled with recipes that sing of Italy and all that is great about Italian food. While many of the recipes were not possible for me to try as at this time of year we simply don’t have access to the fresh fruits and vegetables the recipes called for, I already have a list as long as my arm of dishes that I look forward to trying in the summer when we are overwhelmed by fresh produce from our gardens.

I remember watching Jamie Oliver’s first programs on The Food Network. It’s interesting to see how this chef has grown and matured. Jamie’s Italy is a very clear sign of that growth. While many would look at the recipes and call them simple or plain, I believe that he has succeeded in capturing the essence of some of the best dishes representing the various regions he visited.

Italian food is so varied that it’s impossible to encapsulate regional cooking in one book. But with Jamie’s Italy, Oliver features some of the most beautiful and worthy dishes out there. And of course the photos are tremendous. It’s not just the food that stars in the photography, but it’s also the people.

I wanted to end April, and my focus on Jamie’s Italy as the Flavour of the Month, on a very high note and I’m happy to say that the Torta di Riso accomplishes that. Like so many of Jamie’s recipes this one is open to improvisation. Essentially you’re making a sweet risotto that you partially cook and then pour into a par-baked tart shell. After baking until firm, you end up with a very unique Italian treat – a firm rice filling in a buttery crust.

I followed this recipe to the letter and did not make any variations so I won’t post the recipe. However, I invite you to pick up a copy of Jamie’s Italy and see firsthand that no matter where you are, Italy is close at hand.


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