Torte Di Riso – Italian Rice Torte – Gluten-free, Vegan, Low-fat, Soy-Free

Torte di Riso is a traditional Italian dish. Torte di Riso is to Risotto, what Baked Mac n Cheese is to regular Mac. It is typically full of cheese and milk. I wanted to veganize it, but I also didn’t want to be so obvious to just go for cheese and milk substitutes. I’m not into cheese, vegan or otherwise, so I knew my version of this would contain my favorite pink tomato cream sauce, with its lovely hints of sweetness and acidity.

Around the internet you will find a lot of vegan mac n cheese sauces, using this potato base trick. This is awesome because while I love cashews every now and again, the tendency for vegan cooking to rely on them for all things creamy, isn’t sustainable, or healthy and after awhile, everything just tastes like cashew cream. When something is overplayed, it’s overplayed, no matter how awesome a cashew is (or a new Rihanna song).

My Torte di Riso, is low-fat, gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, and full of awesome flavors. Yet, it is so rich; you will completely forget the above facts.

This is a great side dish for a fancy dinner party, and your guests will all ooh and ahh over your mad skills, and while there is a little muss and fuss to this recipe, the steps themselves are very simple. You can also make it ahead of time, and bake it when you need it!

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Ingredients: 

For tomato cream sauce

2 cups white or yellow wax skin (not russet) potatoes, about 2 medium (steamed or microwaved till tender)

1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk of choice (I used almond)

1 TB sweetener of choice (I used coconut sugar)

2 TB lemon juice

2 teas. Miso paste (chickpea miso for soy/gluten free)

½ cup nutritional yeast

2 TB tapioca flour/starch

1, 14.5 oz can, diced tomatoes, drained (keep juice for another recipe or use in soup)

1-2 cloves garlic

½ cup raw onion

1 pinch nutmeg (optional)

2 teas. Aged balsamic vinegar (optional)

Additional ingredients:

2 med. or 1 large zucchini, sliced into long, flat, wide strips, and ¼ inch thick

Other choices could be roasted red peppers, asparagus, caramelized onions, portabella mushrooms etc.

2 cups Arborio rice (risotto rice)

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 475.

In a large pot, bring approximately 8 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add the Arborio rice, and boil for 15 minutes, or till al dente, drain, and set aside.

Lay zucchini on a non-stick cookie baking sheet, or parchment paper in rows, with no pieces overlapping. When the oven is hot, bake slices for 15-20 minutes, till the edges begin to curl and brown. Alternatively, you can grill the vegetables.

Remove the zucchini from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 425.

Using a high speed blender such as a Blendtec or Vitamix, blend all the sauce ingredients, except for the tomatoes, on high till smooth. Pour into a saucepan, and slowly begin to heat on medium high, stirring frequently, making sure a skin doesn’t form on the bottom. Continue to stir, and raise the heat till sauce begins to bubble. Reduce the heat, and continually stir, till the sauce become thick and stretchy, about 15 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes. Remove from heat.

Stir the rice into the sauce.

Using a non stick, rectangular spring-form or loaf pan (oil if necessary to prevent sticking), pour half the sauce/rice mixture into the pan. I use a silicone, spring-form mold like this.

Layer the zucchini or other vegetable slices in a single layer covering the rice layer. Pour the rest of the rice mixture over this. At this point you can refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking.

To bake right away, place in the oven at 425 for 35 – 40 minutes until the top is firm and forms a lovely crust. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing. Slices easier with a serrated knife.