Rici bici (family Christmas recipe)

Ingredients for rici bici, or strata.

Ingredients for rici bici, or strata.

For the holidays at my grandmother’s house, it wasn’t ham or turkey served up on the special heirloom china: it was a rich casserole of rice, beans and vegetables. This dish will always remind me of the holidays, and sitting around the table with family, Christmas tree lights twinkling in the background. Inspired by some of the recipes from the cookbook Recipes for a Small Planet, this dish has remained a favorite of mine into adulthood.

Rici bici, my favorite Christmas dish.

Rici bici, my favorite Christmas dish.

Aside from the simple yet rich flavor, there’s something else wonderful about this recipe, and that’s how adaptable it is. It’s a ratio, so you can easily make more, or less, depending on how many guests you have. If you want more or less veggies, feel free to add your favorites to the mix. Also, you can mix the ingredients together and refrigerate it for a day or two until you’re ready to bake it. Finally, while it’s wonderful fresh out of the oven, it makes good holiday leftovers as well.

I think the proper name for it is “strata,” but at my family’s table, we’ve always called it rici bici. (All long e sounds, if you’re wondering how to say it!)IMG_20131225_141312EDIT

A note on ingredients: while my grandmother often made this with brown rice and chickpeas, I’ve used both kidney beans and cannellini beans, as well as white rice, and it was delicious. Chedder cheese makes a nice contrast, but other types of cheese, such as gouda or monterey jack, would also work well. For vegetables, I’ve found that spinach cooks up easily, and broccoli also works well in this. This year, I tried green beans and red peppers, and they’re also tasty. Also, I’ve used both skim milk and two percent, and didn’t notice much difference.

Mixing the ingredients.

Mixing the ingredients.

Ingredients

1/2 cup uncooked rice (brown or white)

6 eggs

1 cup milk (2 percent)

1-2 cups raw veggies

1 cup diced onion

1 cup shredded cheese

1 cup beans, cooked

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Before it's cooked (at my family's last year.)

Before it’s cooked (at my family’s last year.)

1. Cook the rice.

2. While the rice is cooking, assemble your other ingredients: shred the cheese, dice the onion, chop the vegetables.

3. When the rice is cooked, let cool before adding the milk or eggs.

4. When the rice is cooled, take a large mixing bowl and mix the ingredients together. In general, I’ve found it easiest to add the rice, cheese, beans, vegetables and onion first, followed by the eggs, and last, the milk and olive oil.

5. Pour the mixture into a baking pan, into a about a 1 1/2 inch layer.

6. Cook at 350 degrees for a half hour.

7. When the rici bici looks bubbling and solid in the middle, and not at all runny, take out of the oven.

8. Let the rici bici set for 10 minutes before serving.

 

My grandmother's handwriting, when she copied the recipe down for me.

My grandmother’s handwriting, when she copied the recipe down for me.

Rici bici (family Christmas recipe)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1/2 cup uncooked rice (brown or white)

6 eggs

1 cup milk (2 percent)

1-2 cups raw veggies

1 cup diced onion

1 cup shredded cheese

1 cup beans, cooked

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the rice.

2. While the rice is cooking, assemble your other ingredients: shred the cheese, dice the onion, chop the vegetables.

3. When the rice is cooked, let cool before adding the milk or eggs.

4. When the rice is cooled, take a large mixing bowl and mix the ingredients together. In general, I’ve found it easiest to add the rice, cheese, beans, vegetables and onion first, followed by the eggs, and last, the milk and olive oil.

5. Pour the mixture into a baking pan, into a about a 1 1/2 inch layer.

6. Cook at 350 degrees for a half hour.

7. When the rici bici looks bubbling and solid in the middle, and not at all runny, take out of the oven.

8. Let the rici bici set for 10 minutes before serving.

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