This is a good summer dish from Puglia, a vegetable and rice bake, rich with oil and pecorino cheese, at least in my book. Tiella comes from the Latin tegella, which basically meant “oven tray”. Now the noun is used, through central and southern Italy, to refer to both the cooking vessel, generally a terracotta or tin (generally) round pan with slanted walls and the dish cooked in it, generally a layered affair of vegetables, fish or meat and uncooked rice. The raw rice cooks in the liquid shed by the other ingredients and by the water added to the dish and keeps the whole thing together. By the end of cooking and after a necessary rest, a tiella is not at all soupy and u eat it with a fork. This is typical Italian summer eating and best eaten barely warm,
This version here is vegetarian and enough for three to four portions. I used a round terracotta dish with a slanted wall, 29 cm x 22 cm x 6 cm, well oil
You will understand it is a method more than a recipe.
1 medium waxy potato, peeled and diced small
2 large peppers, peeled and diced small
2 medium courgettes, diced small
1 onion finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
a handful of parsley, finely chopped (or dry oregano)
two handful of grated pecorino
120 g risotto rice
For the top: stale breadcrumbs, extra pecorino, oil
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the diced vegetables, the garlic, the parsley, the pecorino and the rice. For a subtle background kick, I have also added a tablespoon of a rather hot turkish red pepper paste – pugliesi, forgive me
Add few glugs of olive oil – tiella is oily.
Add salt and pepper – be generous with the salt, because you are going to add unsalted water, to cook the rice. I have also added a touch of sugar because my rather tasteless UK vegetables need any help they can possibly get. Combine everything together.
Transfer the mix into the terracotta dish. Barely cover with hot water.
Cover with an oiled piece of tin foil and bake for half an hour. Remove the tiella from the oven, give it a good stirr and put it back in the oven, still covered. After 30 minutes, remove the cover, shower the tiella with breadcrumbs, pecorino and oil and bake until a deep golden crust has formed. Eat barely warm
Notes: most Italian recipes tell you to cook the tiella without stirring it. I think stirring helps to cook the ingredients evenly, but it might just be a fantasy of mine. You decide