Food & Diet Meatless Monday Recipes Recipes

Meatless Monday Recipes: The Goddess’s Rice

September 3, 2018

First of all: Happy Labor Day to all my American friends!

Today I want to talk about a staple in Italian cuisine: rice. Here in Italy, rice is used almost as frequently as pasta, in the almighty risotto. Arborio rice is probably the most famous, but there is a lesser known cousin that is worth taking the time to mention. The darker and more mysterious riso nero.  It is is black by nature and has a rich history. It is known here as Riso Venere, but is called by many other names.

It was originally cultivated in China until the XIX century and was only consumed by the Emperor and his court, giving rise to the name “Rice of the Emperor”.  This elite rice made its way into Italy and is now cultivated here in the northern regions. The Italians call this rice “Riso Venere” or Venus’ Rice after the goddess of love, desire and fertility because legend boasts that this rice holds aphrodisiac powers giving rise to yet another name: the “Forbidden Rice”.

The grains turn a deep purple-ish black as they cook due to their high anthocyanin content. In fact they contain one of the highest anthocyanin contents found in food. These anthocyanins provide rich and precious antioxidants (like those found in blueberries). It is also rich in iron, and as it is whole-grain, it has a lower glycemic index.

This delicious, elegant and aromatic rice can be prepared in many ways. Risotto, pilaf, arroz negro, you name it. My personal favorite is to prepare it fresh with pesto, peas and fresh tomatoes. Instead of basil, I add arugula to the pesto every so often for its rich and earthy flavors. But a classic pesto is equally as delicious.

Had you eaten black rice before? Was it worthy of being called a food of the gods?

Author: Ali @ Sustainable Psyche

My name is Ali. I am an American living in Italy. I am passionate about delicious food that is also ethical, healthy and sustainable. I love pasta and pizza, traveling, horseback riding and exploring the vibrant city of Milan that I call home.

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Riso Venere with Arugula Pesto & Peas
Print Recipe
This rice dish, named after the deity of love is aromatic, elegant, rich in flavor and ideal for summer nights.
Servings Prep Time
5 15
Cook Time Passive Time
40 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
5 15
Cook Time Passive Time
40 1 hour
Riso Venere with Arugula Pesto & Peas
Print Recipe
This rice dish, named after the deity of love is aromatic, elegant, rich in flavor and ideal for summer nights.
Servings Prep Time
5 15
Cook Time Passive Time
40 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
5 15
Cook Time Passive Time
40 1 hour
Ingredients
For the Pesto
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Boil water for rice and cook according to package. (Usually about 40 minutes)
  2. As rice is cooking, prepare the pesto. (This can be done the day before as well) Use a food processor to blend all pesto ingredients until you reach a smooth consistency.
  3. With about 10 minutes left, add peas to the rice and finish cooking
  4. Strain and set aside. Let cool completely.
  5. Stir in pesto to rice and pea mixture.
  6. Cut tomatoes into quarters and mix into the rice.
  7. Chill for 1 hour in fridge before serving.
  8. Enjoy!

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