Tiella: Italian Baked Rice

Baked tiella served with balsamic drizzle

Tiella is an Italian baked rice dish, primarily from Southern Italy. On top or rice, the primary ingredients seem to be potatoes, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, and mussels. So, that’s where I started with this recipe. For this recipe, I started with a base of the traditional ingredients and added some twists based on what I had on hand.

The first change I made was the use of mussels. I didn’t have mussels in the house, but I did have smoked clams. The smoked or whole baby clams from Thrive Market are a great option. I like to keep them around in case I want to mix up a batch of clam chowder, but that’s a post for another day. A couple of other non-traditional ingredients I included in my baked rice are white wine and balsamic vinegar. Just building more layers of flavor!

Most of the recipes I read and researched before testing and writing this recipe only called for some Parmesan cheese. But, I wanted something creamier so I also mixed in some fresh mozzarella. If you don’t have fresh, shredded mozzarella will mix in nicely too.

I also had some other produce that needed to be used up: a couple of scallions and a few mushrooms. I especially liked the addition of the mushrooms. It added a similar texture as the mussels and/or clams. That’s the beauty of this baked rice, you can add nearly any vegetables that need to be used up. It will only make it better.

spread of prepared vegetables for the tiella

Once you have all of your vegetables prepped and chopped or sliced, add them to an oven-safe baking dish. Traditionally, tiella is baked in tiella pot, which is a terracotta or earthenware baking dish. Since I don’t have a tiella pot, I used one of my go-to baking dishes for baked rice.

vegetables in the casserole dish

Once all of your vegetables are in the pot, add in your cheeses and herbs. I used diced fresh mozzarella and half of the parmesan the recipe calls for.

cheese and parsley added to the vegetables

Then all you have to do is add the rice, the liquid, olive oil, and give it all a big toss!

all of the vegetables, cheese, and herbs mixed with the rice and liquid.

Arrange the sliced zucchini on top of the rice and vegetable mixture so that it forms a lid. I like to give it a gentle press down just to make sure everything is all snug.

zucchini arranged on top of rice mixture for the tiella

Top it with the last of the parmesan cheese.

final layer of cheese on top of the zucchini before going into the oven

Bake the rice until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft. Enjoy! It’s that simple!

the finished baked tiella
plated tiella with balsamic drizzle


Italian Baked Rice
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian


  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 golden potatoes diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 4 oz mushrooms sliced
  • 1-2 zucchini sliced
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh mozzarella cheese diced
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 6 oz jarred or canned clams
  • 2 3/4 cup rice


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Start by preparing all of the vegetables. Chop the onion, slice the cherry tomatoes in half (or dice the same amount of other tomato type), dice the potatoes (russet potatoes work well here too), mince the garlic clove, clean and slice the mushrooms, and slice the zucchini.
  • Add all of the vegetables you just prepared in a casserole dish.
  • Add the diced fresh mozzarella cheese (shredded mozzarella works here too) and grate 1 oz of the parmesan cheese over the vegetables (shredded or grated parm can work here too). And add chopped fresh parsley.
  • Add the rice, white wine, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and vegetable stock. If you don't have white wine or stock, you can use water, it'll just have a bit less flavor. Season with salt and pepper and mix everything you have added to the casserole dish to this point. In theory you could probably just mix it all from the start, but I just didn't do it that way.
  • Next, add the clams. I don't mix these in; just lay them on top of the rice mixture.
  • Lay the zucchini in an even layer on top of the rice mixture and clams. Once all of the zucchini layer is on, give the dish a gentle press down. You can just use your hands. It just helps to make sure all of the rice is submerged in the liquid.
  • Finely grate the rest of the parmesan cheese on top and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cover with either aluminum foil or a lid for your casserole dish and bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed by the rice and the rice has softened. Uncover the dish for the last 10 minutes so the cheese on top gets a bit crispier.
  • I served the dish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. You can also garnish with some extra parsley or a herbed oil.

This dish is so simple and easily accommodated to what you have in your pantry and refrigerator. I hope you enjoy and come up with your own delicious versions.

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