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Rice casserole with potatoes and mushrooms. Pure comfort food

Rice casserole with potatoes and mushrooms

When I think about comfort food, firstly, I guess steaming dishes like this rice casserole with potato and mushrooms, a revisitation of a famous Italian dish from the South, rice, potato, and mussels tiella.

But what exactly does comfort food mean anyway? However, I suppose it changes for each of us, above all today, with the variety of diets that crowd our tables today.

The expression, which has taken shape thanks to the pioneering reflections of British and American food writers, refers to foods that, in addition to satiating, have to do with consolation and well-being.

Anyway, often are foods reminiscent of childhood or home cooking; almost always, they are carbohydrates or dishes high in sugar.

When I think about the home cooking of my childhood, I find flavors that go far beyond mere nourishment. Often, my comfort foods are pasta dishes and desserts. More pasta than desserts, to be honest. My list of comforts includes the classic cup of broth, consommés, and soups.

My idea of comfort food is related to ingredients, memories, and seasons (of life even). It’s this mix of different elements that make a dish a comfort.

I admit my favorite comfort foods are almost all traditional Emilia-Romagna first courses. And among the desserts, surprisingly, there is the American apple crumble that my flatmate and friend Ann made several times. 


Rice casserole with potatoes and mushrooms

The flavors of the woods in a rice casserole

During one of my weekly visits to my parents’ house in Romagna, I found a welcome gift waiting for me. It was a bag of fragrant porcini mushrooms picked in the woods surrounding Castel del Rio. It is a small village in the Romagna Apennines that becomes Tuscany after a handful of kilometers. I have often written about this area here on the blog since that is where the paternal branch of my family comes from.

I decided to use the stems of those porcini mushrooms, less valuable than the caps, to revisit the superb recipe for rice, potato, and mussels tiella that Paola, a friend from Brindisi who has lived in Bologna for a long time, prepares.

That is a land version of my friend’s sea recipe, where mushrooms replace mussels. I assure you that the rice pan produces a comfort food effect.

The ingredients cook together, placed in layers, and covered with broth.

As they cook, the moods mingle, and the flavors of forest, earth, and rice paddy, encouraged by Parmesan cheese, come together. The outcome is a special pan that is also suitable for Sunday lunch.

Buona cucina, Monica

Cooking Notes
  • If you don’t have fresh porcini, use a small amount of dried ones plus fresh champignons mushrooms.
  • I often cook it using any mushroom. The taste is always satisfying.
  • The rice casserole is a vegetarian recipe you can serve as a first course. Anyway, it works well as the main dish.
  • The pan consists of layers of uncooked potatoes, uncooked rice, cleaned but uncooked mushrooms, grated Parmesan cheese, butter flakes, and a pinch of salt, like a lasagna.
  • The last layer is just potatoes and parmesan cheese. If you want, and if there are leftovers, you can add mushrooms.
  • You can prepare it the day before and reheat it in the oven with the pan covered.
Tuscan-Romagna recipes from my paternal grandmother

The paternal grandmother did not leave many recipes behind. However, they are little masterpieces of the mountain peasant cuisine, such as castagnacciofrittelle, eggs in tripe, chickpea and basil farinata, and fried bread.

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Rice casserole with potatoes and mushrooms


Rice casserole with potatoes and mushrooms

Rice, potato and mushroom casserole is a vegetarian and versatile recipe that you can serve as a first or main course
Course First Course, One dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Rice casserole, Vegetarian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 rectangular mold 30x19


  • 500 g of potatoes
  • 20 g of dried porcini mushrooms, optional
  • 500 g of champignons or similar
  • to taste salt, olive oil, butter
  • 100 g of grated Parmesan cheese + enough to dust the surface
  • 150 g of Carnaroli rice
  • 500 ml of vegetable or meat stock
  • to taste of dried oregano or thyme


  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into thin slices about 3mm or so with a knife or potato peeler. Keep aside.
  • If you use dried porcini, place them in a cup with hot water for 5 minutes. Then drain, strain the water, and combine it with the broth. Rinse the mushrooms, chop with a knife, and set aside.
  • Clean and slice the mushrooms and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C degrees (356F).
  • Grease the bottom of the baking dish with oil or butter, arrange a layer of potatoes, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, spread the mushrooms over the surface, a few porcini crumbs here and there, a handful of rice (divide it equally among the layers), a pinch of salt, add a few ladles of broth to which you will have added the soaking water from the porcini, and proceed with another layer.
  • Repeat the same procedure for each layer until you run out of ingredients. Don't forget to add a pinch of salt for each layer.
  • Make a final layer of potatoes, sprinkle with Parmesan and oregano or dried thyme, and add a few flakes of butter and more broth if the pan contains it. Set aside a few spoons of it to add while cooking.
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Sink a toothpick into the baking dish and add a couple of ladlefuls of broth if it looks like you need to.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Food Tips

  • All ingredients are not pre-cooked: potatoes, mushrooms, and rice.
  • If you reheat it, cover the pan with aluminum foil.
  • You can prepare it the day before.
  • Store in the refrigerator.

Riso al forno

Patate e funghi

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