Baked Tiella Rice

The wonderful Nonna Linda and I laughed so much we cried when we cooked this dish, and to be honest, I've never seen anything like it before. It's a principle that can bow or step up to whatever budget you have. The genius thing is you simply prep all the veg so it cooks in the same time as the rice, meaning you can embrace different seasonal produce, which Linda was very cool about, ducking and diving so the recipe suits you.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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Ingredients

300 grams (10 ounces) potatoes

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

2 sticks of celery

400 grams (14 ounces) ripe cherry tomatoes

1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley (30 grams [1 ounce])

60 grams (2 ounces) Parmesan cheese

400 milliliters (scant 1 3/4 cups) Prosecco

Extra-virgin olive oil

500 grams (1 pound) long-grain rice

750 grams (1 2/3 pounds) mussels, scrubbed, debearded, from sustainable sources

1 zucchini

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F)/gas 6. Peel the potatoes, then, one at a time, cut them lengthways into quarters and erratically slice them to about the thickness of a coin, the rougher the better. Place in an ovenproof earthenware pot or small casserole pan.
  2. Peel the onion, garlic and celery, then randomly finely chop with the tomatoes and parsley (stalks and all), and add to the pot. Finely grate in half the Parmesan, then pour in the Prosecco and 8 tablespoons of oil. Add the rice, season with sea salt and black pepper, then mix everything together really well.
  3. Pick through the mussels and tap any open ones--if they don't close, discard. Now you've got two choices. Linda shucks the raw mussels, which is fiddly but you'll get the hang of it and it gives the most incredible depth of flavour from the sea. Use a small sharp knife to carefully prise open the shells and pull out each raw mussel and its juices. Or, simply put the mussels into a really hot pan, cover, and steam for 3 to 4 minutes until they pop open. Once cool enough to handle, remove the shells (discarding any that remain closed). Either way, stir the mussels and any juices into the pot, then finely slice the zucchini and layer on top like a lid. Gently push down to submerge in the flavours, then finely grate over the remaining Parmesan. Place on a high heat, and as soon as it starts to bubble, transfer to the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden. Rest for 10 minutes, then serve.
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