If past lives do exist then I must have been a China native as my love for rice is unspeakable. I can eat it everyday without ever feeling bored of it. Its simplicity often makes people think that rice is not that interesting but it is that simplicity that makes it so versatile.

During summer, rice can be heavenly combined with aubergines and tomatoes to create a dish full of flavors and aromas. All you need is to treat it with respect and give it 20-25 minutes of your time for its preparation. The result will make it worthwhile.


  • 2-3 small eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-2 cm cubes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomatoes, coarsely chopped or cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cup arborio rice
  • 6-7 cups vegetable stock
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt for seasoning
  • Parmesan flakes and finely chopped basil for decoration


  1. Pre-heat oven at 200°C.
  2. Combine the eggplant cubes and the tomatoes into a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat.
  3. ShrimpEggplant Place baking paper on a baking tray and spread on top the eggplant and tomato cubes. Cook them for approximately 20 minutes until eggplants become tender and tomatoes start to give. CAREFUL not to burn them.
  4. Remove from the baking tray and set aside.
  5. In a small saucepan, slowly cook the pine nuts until you can smell their aroma. Remove from the heat and reserve for later.
  6. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to the boil and remove from the heat.
  7. In a large saucepan, add the remaining olive oil with the chopped onions and shimmer over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until they start to soften.
  8. Add the garlic and shimmer for an extra minute and then add the arborio rice. Stir for 2 minutes until the rice is well coated and the grains start becoming slightly translucent.
  9. Add the wine and shimmer for a minute until the alcohol evaporates.
  10. Add 1 cup of the hot vegetable broth and stir frequently, until the liquid is almost absorbed. The stock should just cover the rice, and should be bubbling, not too slowly but not too quickly either.
  11. Stir often, and when you see that the stock has been absorbed by the rice, add another cup of liquid. The rice will be cooked through after 20-25 minutes of adding the stock and stirring.
  12. When the rice is tender all the way through but still chewy, it is done. Add pepper, taste and adjust salt.
  13. Add the reserved eggplant and tomato, a final 1/2 cup of broth, and continue stirring for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is creamy.
  14. Stir in the Parmesan and the pine nuts.
  15. Serve with extra flakes of Parmesan cheese on top and some finely chopped fresh basil.



Lab scientist, sharp dresser and cooking guru Maria is one half of the original alwaysladies.com founding team. She brings her opinions with earnestness and a smile, even when there are razor blades inside.

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