Mark Bittman keeps rollin’ out the hits with his cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food. What I love about this book is that it focuses on how to master basic techniques, then follows with simple instructions on augmenting these simple recipes into more complex dishes.
Take rice pilaf, for example. His pilaf recipe is ultra-basic, consisting of olive oil (or butter), onion, rice, salt and pepper, stock and parsley. Though it’s a simple recipe, the instructions are are somewhat detailed, describing how the rice should look, what to do if you have an electric stove, what rice is best for pilaf, and so on. But after this recipe, he provides 7 simple pilaf variations that can be built on the basic recipe.
Last night, I tried the “Arroz Rojo” (Mexican Red Rice) to accompany some leftover spinach and mushroom enchiladas and refried black beans. It’s amazing what a little tomato, onion and garlic will do for a pot of long-grain rice. Tim and I loved this. And it was perfect with the black beans.
I used long-grain white rice for this, but Mr. Bittman reckons that basmati is the best. You can also do this with long grain brown rice, as long as you adjust the stock accordingly.
To see more variations on rice pilaf, visit Rice Pilaf, Seven Ways on Mark Bittman’s blog, How to Cook Everything.
Mexican Rice Pilaf (Arroz Rojo)
For a complete meal, serve this with refried beans and a vegetable, such as steamed greens or a mixed salad.
2 to 4 tablespoons olive or neutral oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups rice, preferably basmati
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped tomato
2 1/2 cups stock
chopped fresh cilantro leaves
squeeze of lemon or lime juice
- Put 2 tablespoons of the butter or oil in a large, deep skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rice all at once, followed by the garlic. Turn the heat down to medium, and stir until the rice is glossy, completely coated with butter or oil, and starting to color lightly, about 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, then turn the heat down to low and add the tomato followed by the stock all at once. Stir once or twice, then cover the pan.
- Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn the heat to the absolute minimum (if you have an electric stove, turn the heat off and let the pan sit on the burner) and let rest for another 15 to 30 minutes. Add the remaining butter or oil if you like and fluff with a fork. Taste and adjust the seasoning, fluff again, garnish, and serve.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 338 Calories; 6g Protein; 7g Total Fat;62g Total Carbohydrates; 0mg Cholesterol; 484mg Sodium; 1.9g Fiber.
Food Diary for Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Lunch at The Real Greek
I met up with some former workmates for lunch. I wasn’t the first to notice that I forgot to take my food photo. One of my friends suddenly stopped what she was doing half-way through the meal: “Monica! Your photo!” Oh well. I guess I was too hungry to snap.
Lunch was mixed mezze. Fairly tasty for a chain restaurant. Pita, hummus, dolmades, Greek salad, some kind of yummy eggplant mush, butter beans in a nice tomato sauce, olives, tatziki. And yet, I was still hungry by the time I got home so had a grapefruit. Insane.
Spinach and Mushrooms Enchiladas Verde
with Refried Black Beans, Mexican Rice and Salad
I am fully aware how nasty those black beans and enchilada look. But I tell you this: ugly tastes good. I had these enchiladas and beans stashed in the freezer from a previous cook-fest. Incidentally, the verde sauce is ANOTHER winner from Bittman’s book (and the reason I told Tim I wanted the book in the first place). But I’ll save that recipe for another time.