Go for Italian? Then dig right in



Cooking Rice With an Italian Accent

By Father Giuseppe Orsini

Cucina Romana

By Sara Manuelli

Interlink / 2006 / $20

This is a cookbook written by a native. Sara Manuelli takes us on a tour of Rome's nine districts, telling us the rich history of each. We stop at little-known restaurants, bakeries, markets and specialty shops, and we leave with their best recipes.

From her home district of Campo de Fiori, we learn about simple, sustaining pastas and a rich ricotta-cheese cappuccino. In Piazza Navona, the landmark square at the center of Rome, we taste the hard, sweet cookies that are dunked in a glass of chilled white wine.

We learn that Italians never order meatballs in a restaurant lest they be made of yesterday's meat -- except at the Osteria della Frezza in Campo Marzio e Piazza de Spagna, where they are made with fresh ground veal.

This is an authentic Italian cookbook, rich with recipes for food that only the locals know. In addition, it is the perfect traveling companion for anyone making the trip to Rome -- the addresses for Manuelli's secret destinations are included.


Risotto della Bella Estate (Beautiful Summer Risotto)

Serves 4

1 large yellow bell pepper

1 large green bell pepper

1 small onion, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter (divided use)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 fresh plum tomato processed in food blender for 1 minute

salt and pepper to taste

chicken broth (optional)

7 drops Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, julienne

parmesan cheese for grating

Wash and dry the peppers. Place them on an outdoor grill and roast them, turning them often, until the skins blister and burn. Place them in a paper bag and close it tightly. Leave them for 10 minutes.

Remove the peppers. The burned skin now can be easily peeled off. Take out the stems, pith and seeds. Place the roasted peppers and their juice in a bowl; set aside until cool, then chop in a large dice.

Saute onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and the pepper juice. Add the rice and stir for 5 minutes.

Add white wine and cook over high heat until the wine evaporates (about 5 minutes). Adjust heat to low and add processed tomato. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook, stirring constantly, for about 18 minutes. If rice seems to be getting too dry, add up to 2 cups of boiling hot chicken broth. Season with Worcestershire sauce.

Remove from the heat and add remaining butter, parsley and basil. Stir vigorously. Transfer to serving bowl and bring to table. Provide grated parmesan for those who desire it.

From "Cooking Rice With an Italian Accent"

Per serving: 398 calories, 7 grams protein, 13 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 64 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 50 milligrams sodium

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