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December’s Third Thursday: Pasta or Rice? December 17, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in random stuff, Third Thursday.

Well, well, well, here it is, another month, another Thursday, another experiment!


Does anyone wonder why I never seem to be able to get anything done?  I spend way too much time reading way too many food blogs, I think . . . but everything just sounds so good!

One of the blogs that I read daily is Mark Bittman’s Minimalist, which you’ll recall from the fried chicken we loved.  Anyway, the other day, he talked about Risotto That’s Not.

What?  Isn’t risotto like being pregnant – it either is or it isn’t, right?

Well, yes and no.

Risotto is a short-grained rice, and it’s cooked in a certain manner.  While there may be variations, the process is basically the same.

But what would happen if, instead of rice, you used pasta?

I know, right?

Since Bittman was demonstrating a chicken-mushroom dish, and since, well, as you know, we don’t “do” fungus, I decided to wing it.  Kind of like one would do with risotto, actually.

That, and the spirit of the “Minimalist” blog is pretty much just winging it, right?  Yeah.


So, rather than chicken and mushrooms, what about roasted red peppers (roasted last summer and stuck in the freezer) and sun-dried tomatoes (actually oven-dried and, again, dried last summer and shoved in the freezer)?  Oh, and garlic.

That should work, right?

PhotobucketSo we started out by heating plenty of olive oil (maybe 2 Tablespoons) in a pot, then sauteeing the (starting to thaw by now) red pepper, dried tomatoes, and garlic.  Cook and stir until everything’s softened, then stir in ½ pound of gemelli.

Just like with risotto (or yesterday’s chicken & rice), you’re going to want to coat each piece of pasta with oil.

Don’t you love it when you can just apply one method to something totally different?  That’s one of the things I really love about cooking . . .

PhotobucketAnyway, once your pasta is coated with oil, season with a bit of salt & pepper and add about ½ cup of white wine.

Is this starting to sound at all familiar?

Yeah, to me too.

Stir the rice pasta frequently until the liquid is absorbed, then add a bit of chicken stock.

Keep stirring and adding a bit more stock.


The key is to be patient.  Add a bit of liquid, maybe half a cup or so, then let it get absorbed before adding more, until the pasta has absorbed enough liquid to be tender.

PhotobucketAnd then we strayed from the original version again.

Peeps had some 5-cheese ravioli filling left over at work and he brought it home to use for calzones.  And even after calzones, we still had some left.

So I said to myself, “why not stir that lovely ricotta cheese mixture right into the pasta-risotto-stuff?”

Then Peeps said “yum.”

I guess I must have used my “out loud” voice.

So anyway, that’s what we did.

And it was, indeed, “yum.”

PhotobucketThe starch from the pasta combined with the chicken stock and veggies, then with the cheese, to make a “sauce” that would be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate separately.

It was truly a one-pan meal, and a perfect winter dinner – the full, rich flavors of roasted red peppers, oven-dried tomatoes and homemade chicken stock,  plus a little shredded romano cheese on top is just enough to truly finish the dish!  After all, there is very little that can’t be improved by the addition of a little cheese.

So . . . what have you been trying from other blogs this month?

If you want to play along, the Third Thursday Guidelines are right here – just send me an email with the information, and we’ll highlight any participants on Tuesday!



1. sjbraun - December 17, 2009


I’m in!
Your “not quite risotto” looks perfectly risotto-ish to me 🙂
Cook on! It looks really delicious.

Thanks, Susan! And thanks so much for joining in, too!

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