It’s hot here, very hot. It’s not even the heat that’s crazy, it is that famous Mediterranean humidity that gets you. All I can say is grazie mille to whomever invented the AC, I would like to give them a very big hug.
We have a fun couple of weekends coming up ahead, this weekend we are going to Elba Island with our two friends, taking the scooters on to the ferry on over for a little island getaway. I still think it’s amazing there are islands close by. (Italy is so cool) Anyway, I am trying not to look like a puffy marshmallow in my bikini on vacation so most summer days I will make salads, sliced bresaola (an air-dried salted beef that has been aged for 2-3 months) topped with arugula, fresh tuna or if I am in need of some carbohydrates I’ll make riso freddo, which literally means “cold rice”.
Riso freddo is a typical dish made here for lunches, BBQ’s, etc. E’s nonna is the queen of the garden at Aia Vecchia Villa and I feel so lucky to be able to reap the benefits of living nearby with being able to go pick fresh veggies anytime I need them. I learned a lot about seasonal vegetables and gardening from her. This American girl did not know that asparagus isn’t available 365 days a year, (insert eye roll). E’s nonna is out in her garden everyday, (even in this pizza-oven heat!) with her cute little sun hat and warren hoe in hand. This time of year zucchini is thriving and we eat it a lot in our household so I am often thinking of different ways to use them. I have a small herb garden on my patio at home which makes it nice to always have fresh herbs on hand. Using fresh herbs and citrus can be a good way to add flavor without loading up on the salt. So I thought to myself “Zucchini would go well with mint and basil… hmm..”and then my imagination went on from there. So here is my recipe for a fresh and delightful “riso freddo”
Riso freddo sapore d’estate
(cold rice with summer flavors)
-2 cup of rice
(jasmine is a good one to use although in this recipe I just used arborio)
-2 cups vegetable stock
-2 cups water
-1 cup spring peas
-Handful of fresh basil and mint
-Extra virgin olive oil
Bring the vegetable stock / water to a boil. Once boiling turn the temperature down to low, add the rice and cook until tender and cooked through. Fluff with a fork and add to a large bowl. Chop the zucchini into small pieces and steam-cook along with the spring peas. Add the steamed veggies into the bowl of rice. (Note; You can totally use frozen spring peas which I always have handy in the freezer) Chop finely the fresh basil and mint and add to the bowl. To dress the rice I add a good amount of extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I also add the zest of the lemon. (Good way to get the most out of the lemon) Bring on the lemon, baby! Season with salt and pepper, stir all ingredients together and cover the bowl with plastic wrap to let cool in the fridge for an hour up to overnight. The flavors sing together the longer it sits. You could also add tuna, ham or chickpeas to this for some protein. Serve with a cool glass of Vermentino by Aia Vecchia and you have yourself a fresh and satisfying summer day meal. Easy peas-y. (Get it?)
Stay cool my friends.