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A few weekends ago, I was folding laundry and decided to turn on the television to keep myself entertained. I started watching Lidia’s Italy – the show hosted by chef Lidia Bastianich – who happened to be making a delicious-looking Rice and Zucchini Crostata.
Talk about perfect timing – my husband Jack and I had just been talking about finding some new zucchini recipes to try so we could use up some of the zucchini from our garden. When I saw Lidia’s Rice and Zucchini Crostata – I knew I had found a winner!
After describing the recipe to Jack (who agreed that it sounded like a fantastic recipe) – I searched online and was thrilled to discover that my friend Gwen had shared Lidia’s Rice and Zucchini Crostata recipe over on her blog! (In fact, Gwen had the chance to meet Lidia several years ago – you can read more about that here.)
So after buying the ingredients, Jack made Lidia’s Rice and Zucchini Crostata for us – and it did not disappoint in the least! A light and golden crust surrounds a creamy filling made with shredded zucchini, Arborio rice, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, eggs, milk and scallions.
Once baked, just allow Lidia’s Rice and Zucchini Crostata to cool, then slice into entrée-sized slabs like we show here, or – on the show that I watched – Lidia suggested that this crostata could be cut into smaller bite-sized pieces and served as an appetizer.
We enjoyed this Rice and Zucchini Crostata for dinner – with plenty left over for several more meals. (In this case, lots of leftovers was a very good thing!)
Our recipe below is a very close adaptation of Lidia’s original Rice and Zucchini Crostata recipe – but we did add a few notes in the instructions below to clarify the steps based on our experience making the recipe.
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Lidia’s Rice and Zucchini Crostata
Note on ricotta: The recipe calls for 2 cups drained overnight. I bought a 32 ounce container and after draining overnight, it was slightly more than the two cups called for. I used it all instead of wasting the small amount over the two measured cups.
- 32-ounce container of ricotta (see note above)
- 1 pound small zucchini shredded on the large holes of a box grater
- 1/2 cup Arborio rice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for handling (see note in step 10 of the instructions below)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Up to 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 cup grated Grana Padano (or Parmesan if you can’t find Grana Padano)
- 2 cups finely chopped scallions, about two large bunches (Pulse in the food processor to chop)
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Butter to grease half sheet pan (12×18 inches)
- The night before, place ricotta in a cheese cloth placed in a strainer hung over a bowl. Refrigerate and let drain overnight.
- The day of, mix shredded zucchini with raw rice in a large bowl and let sit for one hour at room temperature.
- In a food processor, place flour and salt and pulse a few times to mix.
- In a measuring cup, add ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil and 1/3 cup of cold water together. The remaining water will be added as needed but in my batch, I used all of the ½ cup of water.
- Run the food processor and add the oil and water mixture with machine running. Add the remaining water if needed to bring the dough together.
- Pour out onto a floured surface and knead for one minute.
- Shape into a rectangle, cover tightly with plastic and let sit at room temperature for one hour.
- After the hour has elapsed, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rack should be at the very bottom of the oven with a pizza stone on the rack if possible.
- Add the drained ricotta, grated cheese, scallions, eggs, milk and salt to the zucchini and rice. Mix to combine.
- Flour the counter and roll the dough out so it is longer and wider than your 12X18 inch buttered pan. (The recipe as written yielded a very thin dough. It is however soft enough that it stays together so make sure it gets rolled larger than the pan. If I was to do this recipe over again, I probably would have increased the amount of dough by about 25%.)
- Roll the dough up on a floured rolling pin then unroll onto the prepared sheet pan, letting the excess hang over. Tuck the sides and corners in but do not cut off excess.
- Pour the ricotta batter onto the dough and spread to the edges.
- Fold the overhanging dough over the top of each edge, pleating the four corners.
- Place on top of the pizza stone and bake for 60-70 minutes or until slightly browned and a knife inserted into the center, comes out clean. If it doesn’t brown, you may consider placing it under the broiler for a minute. We did with ours.
- Cool 30 minutes and cut into 20 pieces.
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