Pesto rice pie with mozzarella

    1 hour 50 min

    This open pie, with its richly flavoured ‘risotto’ crust and Mediterranean vegetable filling topped with melting cubes of soft mozzarella, looks wonderful and tastes sensational! Serve with a chunky green salad of chopped celery and chicory tossed with a little plain low-fat yogurt and chopped fresh mint.

    5 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • Risotto crust
    • 15 g (½ oz) butter
    • 1 small onion, finely chopped
    • 200 g (7 oz) risotto rice
    • 600 ml (1 pint) hot vegetable stock
    • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
    • 25 g (scant 1 oz) fresh basil
    • 25 g (scant 1 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
    • 15 g (½ oz) pine nuts
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 small egg, beaten
    • salt and pepper
    • Mozzarella filling
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 red onion, sliced
    • 300 g (10½ oz) courgettes, thickly sliced
    • 250 g (8½ oz) tomatoes, cut into chunks
    • 125 g (4½ oz) mozzarella cheese, diced
    • fresh basil leaves to garnish

    Prep:50min  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Ready in:1hr50min 

    1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F, gas mark 5). First make the risotto for the crust. Melt the butter in a large, wide pan and cook the onion gently for 4–5 minutes, stirring, until just softened but not browned. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute.
    2. Add a ladleful of the hot stock and bubble over a moderate heat, stirring, until it is almost all absorbed, then add another ladleful of stock. Continue adding the stock gradually in this way, stirring frequently. When all the stock has been added and absorbed, the rice should be just tender and the risotto creamy. Remove from the heat.
    3. Place the garlic, basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and olive oil in a blender or food processor, and blend together until finely chopped. Stir into the rice with the lemon zest, egg, and salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Spoon the risotto mixture into a straight-sided 23 cm (9 in) loose-bottomed flan tin about 3 cm (1¼ in) deep. Spread evenly over the bottom and sides. Set the tin on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and just firm.
    5. Meanwhile, for the filling, heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and courgettes for 3 minutes, stirring, until lightly coloured. Stir in the tomatoes, cover and cook over a moderate heat, shaking the pan occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until the courgettes are just tender.
    6. Spoon the vegetables into the risotto case and level the surface. Scatter the mozzarella over the top. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve hot, garnished with basil leaves.

    Parmesan cheese

    Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.

    Some more ideas

    To save time, replace the basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nut and olive oil mixture with about 4 tbsp pesto sauce from a jar. * For an aubergine and halloumi rice pie, make the risotto as in the main recipe up to the end of step 2, adding a pinch of saffron threads to the stock. Instead of the pesto mixture, flavour with 25 g (scant 1 oz) toasted chopped almonds, 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint and the finely grated zest of 1 orange. Stir in the beaten egg and seasoning to taste, then finish the risotto case as in the main recipe. For the filling, fry 3 crushed garlic cloves in 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for 30 seconds. Add 375 g (13 oz) diced aubergine and cook on a high heat, stirring, for 10 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Add 1 can of chopped tomatoes, about 400 g, with the juice, and simmer for 5 minutes or until most of the juice has evaporated. Spoon into the risotto case, top with 125 g (4½ oz) diced halloumi cheese and bake for 8–10 minutes or until golden. Serve hot, garnished with sprigs of fresh mint.

    Plus points

    Apart from the nutritional benefits of rice, it has been used in natural medicine to treat a variety of digestive problems including indigestion, mild diarrhoea and constipation. * Pesto, a classic Italian sauce, has a high fat content because of the inclusion of olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. However, the majority of fat is present as the more healthy monounsaturated fat rather than saturated fat. * Mozzarella cheese is lower in fat than many other cheeses and as a result is also lower in calories.

    Each serving provides

    A * B12, C, niacin, calcium, copper, zinc * B1, B2, B6, E, folate, iron, potassium

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    Dead Easy to make. Kids loved  -  08 Jun 2013