The use of rice and cereals in salads during the summer season is quite popular in Italy and you’ll be surprised by the variety of recipes and combinations that can be found in every region.
As an Italian chef working abroad, I feel like I have a duty to help spread the culture of mixing fantastic grains with great ingredients. Not only are these timesaving and vibrant dishes but they are also full of health benefits!
The Venere rice used in this dish is whole-grain with an unmistakable natural black colour that whilst cooking, release a fantastic aroma, similar to the smell of freshly baked bread. Some even say the rice, which has a high mineral content, is not only nutritious but also has aphrodisiac properties.
The courgette pesto paired in this dish is unlike any other pesto you’ve ever had! Use green courgettes that are in height of the season and you’ll be amazed by the texture of this ever so easy recipe!
Chef’s tip: This vegetarian recipe could easily be made vegan by avoiding the grated Grana Padano in the pesto and the shaved ricotta on top. Remember to adjust the seasoning and it will be just as good.
This dish can also be prepared in advance.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 16 minutes
Categories: Main course
- 260g of Riso Gallo Venere rice
- 1 green courgette
- Fresh herbs to garnish (basil and rocket salad)
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 20g of almond, skinned and chopped
- 20g of hard ricotta
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Pesto
- 2 green courgettes
- 20g of grated Grana Padano cheese
- 50ml of extra virgin olive oil
- 10g of almond, skinned
- 5g of fresh basil, picked and washed
- 5g of fresh mint, picked and washed (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
First and foremost prepare the pesto. Shred the courgette with a grater, season with salt and leave it to drain for at least 1 hour over a sieve. Once the excess water is gone, put the shredded courgette in a food processor with all the other ingredients. Make sure you “pulse” the courgettes as you want to have a grainy paste with consistency and not a too lose pesto. Once at the right texture – keep aside in a jar. You can store the pesto in the fridge for a couple of days to use in a variety of other dishes, such as pasta.
Cook the Venere rice in salted boiling water for about 16 minutes and drain while still a little al dente. Cool the rice down under running water.
Cut the remaining courgette into a fine julienne and season with salt. Pat the courgette dry and mix together with the rice in a large bowl.
Now dress the Venere salad with the courgette pesto and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Mix well and plate in large bowls. Top the salad with chopped almonds, fresh basil, rocket leaves and some shaved ricotta.
Recipe by Danilo Cortellini
For more information and recipes from Riso Gallo click here
We met chef Danilo Cortellini in Milan, we were there with Danilo to discover Italian rice. Danilo is passionate about Italian cooking and very kindly agreed to let us have a few of his favourite Italian recipes for our readership to enjoy trying out.
Danilo is Head Chef at the Italian Embassy in London and was a finalist in MasterChef the Professionals in 2015.
See more recipes from Danilo Cortellini and Riso Gallo recipes here