So you all know by now that one of my menu items was chosen by Bertolli Sauces as a winner and that I am now attending the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco as a guest of Bertolli Sauces, right?
And you might think “oh that little pizza – didn’t take much work at all for her to come up with that.” Well actually, this pizza:
was just part of a menu I submitted to Bertolli and Foodbuzz. My main course did not get chosen, which is ok, since I would have been very nervous to make that live in front of an audience if it got voted one of the top 3.
The pizzas on the other hand, I would LOVE to demo them for the crowd at the Festival – you can click here to vote for my menu item and help me be one of the three bloggers to demo their creations live!!!!
My first main problem was that in Canada, Bertolli products are limited to the olive oils and vinegars. Fortunately, when I was creating my menu items, there was a trip to Buffalo just around the corner and part of our good times at Wegmans involved raiding the Bertolli sauces aisle!
Whilst I can’t share the recipe for my WINNING MENU ITEM with you just yet, I can promise that it is well worth your vote – it took less than 30 minutes to produce those babies – whether you need an elegant appetizer for a dinner party, or a quick weeknight meal, they will blow you away at how simple yet impressive they are.
I can, however, share the menu item that did not get chosen, since it’s one of my staples throughout the winter.
Main dish: Torta di risotto with char-grilled Portobello mushrooms, three cheeses and Bertolli Premium Champignon and Portobello mushroom pasta sauce.
This deceptively easy dish is visually stunning. This is a recipe from Celia Brooks Brown’s “New Vegetarian” (with some modifications) (I totally love this book!!!) and will impress even the most die-hard carnivores (i.e. even Neil) with its unexpected layer of meaty mushrooms. I substituted the suggested can of chopped plum tomatoes for the Bertolli sauce and extra mushrooms. It is a great dish for entertaining, and can be made in advance, refrigerated and brought to room temperature before cooking.
⅓ cup (plus 3-4 tablespoons for preparing the loaf tin) panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup Bertolli Classico Olive Oil
3 large Portobello mushroom caps, sliced into ½ inch slices
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large Portobello mushrooms (plus the stems from the 3 caps), finely chopped into small cubes
1 ½ cups Bertolli Champignon and Portobello mushroom pasta sauce.
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 generous handsful of fresh basil, torn or roughly chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
4 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
4 oz fontina (or other hard, mature) cheese, cut into ¼ inch cubes
⅔ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher or sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Prepare a 9-inch loaf tin by oiling and coating with about 3-4 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs.
Heat a stovetop grill pan until very hot. Toss the Portobello slices in about 3 tablespoons of the oil, season with salt and pepper and sear each side for a couple of minutes in the hot pan, until softened. Ideally, we want to mark the Portobello slices with black grill marks but this might not always happen depending on the size and shape of the mushroom slices and your grill pan. A regular fry pan can also be used. Place on paper towels to drain some of the moisture off and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in a saucepan; add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the chopped Portobello mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add the Bertolli sauce, the vinegar and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until sauce is heated through and has thickened slightly. Set aside, off heat and stir in the basil.
Add the rice to a saucepan of boiling, well-salted water – “it should taste like the sea” according to my Chef at Culinary School! (no need to measure the water). Bring back to the boil then reduce heat slightly and simmer, uncovered, until the rice is al dente – tender but still firm – about 8 -10 minutes. Drain.
Spread about half the rice mixture into the loaf pan, packing it well. Smooth the top. Layer the sliced, roasted Portobello mushrooms on top, layering them width ways across the pan and taking care to pack them tightly.
Top with the remaining rice mixture. Press the loaf firmly, smoothing the mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs. (At this point, you can refrigerate the torta and cook it later, bringing it to room temperature before cooking).
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden and the torta is bubbling around the edges. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn your torta out onto a platter. Cut into slices and serve. If this scares you (ahem! and you haven’t oiled your loaf pan enough…), you can simply cut slices from the pan and serve it from there.
Don’t forget to “buzz” my Pesto deconstructed pizzas here so I can demo them live in the Bertolli Sauces kitchen at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival and click here to vote ELTW for Best New Blog! Thanks!