Novara Rice Salad

Insalata di Riso Novarese

This is a lovely rice salad with optional truffles! Other ingredients include lemons, anchovies, white wine and garlic. Many people object to the combination of truffle and lemon, claiming that the delicate flavour of the truffle should be protected from something as harsh as lemon juice. I think they marry very well indeed in some dishes and this is one of them. It is a recipe from Novara, in whose province stretch endless rice fields.

Ingredients

  • 11 oz (300 g) long-grain rice (preferably Novara)
  • salt
  • 9 tablespoonsolive oil
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 1 X 4 oz (100 g) white truffle, sliced into thin slivers or 4 oz (100 g) button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 anchovies preserved in salt, cleaned and boned, 8 canned anchovy fillets, drained
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 handfulof parsley, chopped

Method

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Toss the rice into a large pan of salted, boiling water. Cook for 8 minutes, then drain. Using about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, oil an ovenproof dish large enough to take all the rice with some extra space for swelling. Tip the rice into the dish, pour the wine over it and place in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until tender.

As soon as it is cooked, take it out of the dish and spread it out on a work-surface or tray to cool, forking it up to separate the grains. Put it into a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons oil to dress it. Arrange the rice in layers in a deep dish (such as a soufflé dish or deep terracotta casserole) with the truffle or mushrooms and set aside. The reason for layering the ingredients in this way, even though they will eventually be mixed, is to ensure that the flavour of the truffle or mushrooms is evenly distributed.

Cut the anchovies into small pieces and put them with the remaining oil and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat the oil gently, mashing the anchovies carefully. Remove from the heat when the anchovies are completely disintegrated, allow to cool, then sieve. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Pour this over the rice, mix it all together and serve cold but not chilled.

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