Rita D’Enza’s Sardinian Rice Gelato

Il Gelato di Riso Della Rita

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Marcella Cucina

By Marcella Hazan

Published 1997

  • About

This recipe and I have had several contentious encounters, but I refused to give up on it. I well remembered its taste and consistency from the time I had it in Rita D’Enza’s restaurant Gallura in Sardinia, so different from those of any other ice cream. It’s an ice cream you can chew on because bits of the rice kernels remain firm enough, and it has a flavor that, like the aftertaste of a fine wine, keeps lengthening after you have swallowed.

My error, I found after many irritatingly unsatisfactory trials, was that I cooked the rice as I do for the Bolognese rice cake in my first book—I cooked it, that is, until it had absorbed all the milk. When frozen, it became a leaden mass. A phone call to Sardinia set me right. Cook the rice in the milk just until the kernels are tender, but not mushy. There should still be milk left in the pan. Puree the rice and milk, and you are safely on the way to making a gelato like no other.


  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 heaping tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 long strips lemon rind, just the outer skin without the white pith beneath
  • cup arborio or other imported Italian risotto rice such as carnaroli or vialone nano
  • Salt
  • 3 egg whites


  1. Put the milk, sugar, and lemon rind in a saucepan, turn on the heat to medium, and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the rice and a tiny pinch of salt, cover the pan, turn the heat down, and cook at a very, very gentle simmer. Stir frequently, making sure there is no rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. As soon as it is done, remove the lemon rind and puree the rice, with what milk remains in the pan, in a food processor for a minute or two. It should become creamy, but it will be punctuated throughout by a few firm bits of rice kernel. Transfer to a small bowl and let it cool completely.
  4. When the pureed rice is cold, whip the egg whites with a tiny pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks, then fold them gently but thoroughly into the rice.
  5. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker. This is a mixture that is likely to mass and freeze faster than other ice creams. Serve when done or transfer to suitable containers and store in the freezer.

Serving Suggestions

If stored in the freezer, let it soften in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before serving. It is excellent served alone, but you can top it with pureed raspberries or strawberries.