Tiella di verdure – vegetable and rice bake, from Puglia

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


17 thoughts on “Tiella di verdure – vegetable and rice bake, from Puglia

  1. This recipe is utterly fabulous.
    I made it two days running as my family begged me to😂
    The first time I used a terracotta dish and the second a paella pan – both worked well.
    I adore it’s versatility.
    Thank you


    1. ciao sally— it is a great dish, isn’t? – a classic dish for a reason. As a coincidence I was thinking to try a winter version, with potatoes, butternuts squash, rice, dry ceps and greens


      1. That sounds delicious too! We are in summer – so I will have to wait to try that version !
        Thank you so much for generously sharing such amazing recipes.


  2. Ciao Stefano, I have not come across this in Puglia, but that is probably because this is too much ‘home cooking’ even for trattorie. Perhaps the non-stirring is for the same reason as in paella, to get a crust at the bottom?


    1. ciao stef…. perhaps this kind of cooking is regarded too “home cooking” by restaurants and trattorie- The most famous tiella is with potatoes and mussels – an institution
      There is no crust here, but that a good idea actually (I guess one needs a metal cooking vessel)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds delicious, Stefano. I saw this on your IG and glad you posted the recipe here. I’ll definitely give it a go. I do make tielle from time to time, and I do enjoy them. They have a special place in my heart as my paternal grandfather was from a small town outside of Bari. Never ate them growing up, however, as his wife (the eponymous Angelina) was from Campania and sadly they weren’t part of her repertoire.


    1. you can make this in your sleep.– not really a recipe. I also love the combination potatoes and tomatoes, with oregano (no courgettes). Your grandma was the typical old school (and I think better, generally) cook: dishes from one’s local heritage, not many of them maybe, but perfect


      1. You are lucky! Most U.S. folks don’t cook with ceramics — Mexicans, yes. I ended making this last night to go with grilled chicken. It was fab. I used the bottom of my tagine.


  4. I loved the blog post Stefano!! I do have a couple of terracotta pots but not shallow like a ti Ella should be. I am going to try and find something similar. Meantime I do have a Corning wear baking dish that might do! I went out yesterday to buy the vegetables I needed…sadly it’s still Winter here…so my vegetables are going to be a little lacking in taste!! I will take your advice and use a little sugar!!! Looking forward to lunch!!! ❤️


    1. ciao Germaine… well, take advantage that it is winter… and make a winter tiella: basically..think “paella”, sort of: rice, potatoes, sausages, maybe cooked pumpkin, or cooked savoy cabbage etc + rice and water/stock… it works


  5. How delightful to learn this simple recipe I can prepare here any time of the year . . .I even happen to have the appropriate cooking vessel ! And I am glad to read this after Mad’s comment and learn the historical background. Country cousins indeed ! Thanks to both of you . . .


    1. thanks. these are forgiving dishes…I sometimes make them in winter too, using appropriate vegetables, potatoes, cabbage, celeriac (previously cooked) + rice + cheese + water/stock… equally good, sort of convivial dishes, good for large gatherings

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That looks delicious and you have a perfect terracotta tiella to make it in. I have researched tiellas and apparently, they date back to a time when a large part of Italy was ruled by the Crown of Aragon. Tiella is a cousin of paella and is one of only a handful of Spanish dishes that has made it’s way into Italian cuisine.


    1. thanks… yes, it makes absolutely sense. the south was a Spanish dominion for a long time and rice is generally a Northern Italian thing.. so its use in the sought could go back to the Spanish.

      Liked by 1 person

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