For 8-10 people:
11/4Cups Acquerello Carnaroli rice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
2 red bell peppers
6 cups fresh fava bean pods, shelled, beans blanched and peeled to make
2 cups fava beans, or 2 cups fresh peeled and steamed refrigerated fava
1 bunch asparagus spears, woody stems and papery scales cut into pieces to make 2 cups
2 carrots, sliced to make 2 cups
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 (7-inch) zucchini, sliced to make 2 cups
5 sage leaves, finely snipped
1 large bunch dandelion greens or arugula, leaves only, hand torn to make 2 lightly packed cups
4 lemons, sliced into quarters
Sea salt and black pepper in grinders, for the table
This recipe calls for the "king of Carnaroli," Acquerello (Italian for "watercolor"), from the Colombara farm in Piedmont, where rice has been cultivated for half a millennium. The Rondolino family (owners of Colombara since 1935) developed Acquerello in the 1990s, and it is the only rice that is grown, aged, whitened, and packaged there. For that process, the unhusked, rough rice is aged for at least one year, then whitened slowly through polishing, and finally recombined with the vital germ. Aging produces rice grains that cook more evenly, reducing the chances that the grains will be cooked in the center but overcooked outside, or cooked outside but raw in the middle. I love the simplicity of this "salad," which allows each seasonal vegetable to stand out on its own: To serve, you will surround the finished bowl of Acquerello rice with individual bowls of grilled, sauted, and blanched vegetables, plus basil pesto, a pitcher of olive oil, and fresh lemons. If dandelion greens are not available, substitute arugula.
In a medium heavy-gauge saucepan or pot over medium heat, combine 4 cups water, the rice, butter, and salt. Stir until the water comes to a boil.
Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring until the rice is tender but not mushy and has absorbed almost all of the liquid This should take 18 to 20 minutes from the simmering stage. Set aside.
Meanwhile, using tongs, blister the skin of the bell peppers on all sides over a gas flame on the stovetop or under the broiler. When the roasted peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin. Chop the peppers and place in small serving bowl. Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium heavy-gauge saucepan or pot, heat 4I2 cups water to boiling over medium beat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Blanch the fava beans until al dente; scoop them out into a small serving bowl. Blanch the asparagus pieces until al dente; scoop them out into another small serving bowl. Turn off the heat and discard the cooking water. Toss the carrots with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil; spread them out on a sheet pan.
Roast in the oven until tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a medium saute pan over medium heat. Saut the zucchini with the sage until tender. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Wipe out the saut pan. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute the dandelion greens until wilted but not soggy. Transfer to a small serving bowl.
To serve, spoon the cooked rice into a serving dish. Surround the rice with the small bowls of different vegetables. Add a small pitcher of olive oil; place the lemon wedges on a plate, and put out salt and black pepper grinders. Spoon the pesto into a small bowl. Invite guests tobuild their own salads.
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