Tag Archives: rice

Island Rice and Peas

Island Rice and Peas

Sorry for the poor lighting – up here North of the 56th parallel it’s still quite bright late at night!

Ever since discovering the glories of Kushari and the closely related (aka time pressed) mujadara, I have been obsessed with creating and discovering new dishes that cook a grain and a legume in one pot. Some have been successful, some have not. For instance, adzuki beans and quinoa are absolutely divine together, but should not be cooked in one pot unless you like your beans crunchy or your quinoa overcooked. (Caveat: if you have canned beans or pre-cooked adzuki beans, welcome to the one-pot party!). Adding 1tsp. of miso to the pre-cooked adzuki beans and quinoa while the quinoa simmers may be as close to heaven as one can get on a weeknight. Throw in some kale, and its eye-roll worthy! But I digress.

With this obsession in mind, I turned to Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero, a cookbook that is quickly replacing Veganomicon in my heart. Island Rice and Peas beckoned, even though when I saw peas I instantly thought “green peas” which was followed quickly by a nose wrinkle and an “ick”. Pea haters don’t despair – there are no green peas in this dish! Rather the peas refer to pigeon peas, which are a legume. Whew! I’ve used them previously in my Sambar, and to be honest have been at a loss as to what to do with the whole variety since. After making this dish, I now know their purpose in my life. And that’s Island Rice and Peas.

Simple in concept, this is the Jamaican version of the one-pot mujadara, although I took my adzuki bean lesson to heart and pre-cooked the pigeon peas. The pigeon peas start out grey when dry, but when you cook them they turn a glorious golden brown, making them much more appetizing looking! They taste like a meaty lentil (if that makes sense), and sit atop the rice pilaf like treasures. The pilaf is kicked up a couple of notches with Scotch Bonnet peppers, or a combination of Scotch Bonnet and habanero, if you can’t find enough Scotch Bonnets and you like spice like I do. Coconut milk tempers the heat somewhat, making the dish that addicting combination of spicy and cool creaminess, which just makes you go for more! The spices are simple: all spice and thyme, and if you are like me and have a mini panic attack when you see only two spices listed in a recipe, fear not! Sometimes simple is best, and this is one of those cases. The recipe makes enough to feed a small army, which is great for those who love reheated leftovers. Freeze individual portions (I used a plastic-lined cookie tray), and then when you want to enjoy an exotic lunch add some water and reheat. Just as good, if not better, the second time around.

I did make some minor tweaks to the recipe as written. Instead of coconut milk I used almond milk, and the result was just as creamy as the original (I think). I also added some collard greens for good measure, because I am addicted to greens. In Jamaica as well, all I ate in a week vacation there was sautéed caloo, which is similar to collard greens, but more delicious (perhaps it’s because you’re in Jamaica?). Although a two-pot affair to cook the beans, this is a tasty version of my standard mujadara, and will enter the rotation with glee!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an online version for you – the recipe is on p. 313-314 of Vegan Eats World.


Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

Sometimes I wonder if too much of the Food Network is a bad thing. And then creativity inspires me to create this dish, which on paper looks odd and disjointed at best, but in the mouth is creamy and delicious and bursting with “Summer is Here!” flavour. My first CSA share was a bit of a mishmash, and came with lots of bits and bobs – enough to not want to eat them all raw in salads, but not enough to make a dish highlighting the ingredients. As this summer I am addicted to re-runs of Top Chef and Chopped, I thought that I’d host my own little culinary challenge with my basket. The ingredients:

– Beets (3 small)

– Garlic Scrapes

– Basil

– Cilantro

– Beans

– Radish

– Kale

Granted, all of them could work well together in a myriad of ways – the challenge was the quantity! Tasters of each, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I adore mixed grains in a risotto/pilaf dish. Because each grain has a slightly different cooking time, the result is a chewy, creamy mouthful of goodness. This dish started out as a pilaf, but when I added the pesto mixture there was too much liquid, so it became a risotto. Quite possibly the easiest risotto ever – no stirring required! (Take that, Tom Colicchio). To the CSA offerings I added cauliflower and red onion – that’s it! The radishes were going to be incorporated, but I ate them all before the dish was born. For good measure, the radish greens made it in though. Radish greens are like dandelion greens, and quite bitter – I am addicted.

I had pre-roasted the beets as an experiment, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. By all means – go ahead if it’s cool enough to turn the oven on. I thought that the roasting quality got lost in the bright risotto, and the pre-cooked beets turned the risotto purple quite quickly. I think next time what I’ll do is leave the beets raw, and grate them on top for garnish. This would make the beet flavour more prominent, add another crunch level, and *hopefully* decrease the beet stain of the risotto!

Regardless, this dish is exceptional. Fancy enough to serve to company, delicious and decadent, I give myself a score of 10! Now where’s the Chopped auditions …

 

Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

¼ cup barley

½ cup buckwheat

½ cup rice

½ cup wild rice

½ cup red onion, sliced into quarters

¼ tsp. dried thyme

1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (approx. 4½ cups)

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil (if short, make up difference with fresh cilantro)

1½ tsp. garlic, minced (or 3 garlic scrapes, chopped)

1¼ cup green beans, cut in 1” pieces

½ cup roasted beets, cut into wedges*

1½ cup fresh kale

salt, pepper to taste

*To roast beets, wash beets and place whole in tinfoil packet. Roast at 375dF for 40min-1h, or until just tender.

 

Directions:

1) In large pot, sauté onion in ¼ cup water until translucent, approx. 5min.

2) Add barley, buckwheat, rice, wild rice, and 6 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and simmer approx. 25min., stirring occasionally.

3) In large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add thyme and cauliflower. Cover and cook until cauliflower tender, approx. 10min.

4) Remove cauliflower from heat and let cool slightly. Puree contents of cauliflower pot with basil and garlic until silky smooth.

5) Add cauliflower mixture to grains. Stir.

6) Add beans to mixture. Stir, cover, and let simmer approx. 5min., or until beans just tender.

7) Add beets, kale. Stir.

8) Adjust for seasonings. Turn off heat and let sit 10min.

9) Stir and serve!

 


Asure (Noah’s Pudding)

Asure

Asure (also known as Noah’s Pudding) is a refreshing end to a Turkish meal. Many Turkish desserts are composed of some variation of phyllo pastry, laden with honey and pistachios. But not this one. Legend has it that when Noah was busy counting the animals, Mrs. Noah was frantically cleaning the pantry and whipped this dessert up with all the contents. As a result, there are as many variations of Asure as there are pantries! After copious amounts of research, the required elements for Asure are as follows:

1) Grain: barley, rice, bulgur wheat
2) Dried fruit: apricot, figs, raisins, currants, cranberries
3) Nuts: Walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts
4) Flavour: orange peel, rose water (1-2 tsp.), vanilla, orange juice
5) Beans: broad beans (lima beans), black-eyed peas, chickpeas, white beans

From there, you can create your masterpiece! A recipe written just the way I cook! I have made variations for breakfast, similar to the Chinese congee. Of course, it makes a wonderful dessert as well, similar to rice pudding. Also note that Noah must be a slow counter – this recipe takes 1-2 days to make due to bean soaking time (and lack of pots in my kitchen), but it makes a LOT. It freezes exceptionally well: to warm up, take one serving straight from the freezer and add a dash of water. Microwave on high until you reach pudding consistency (~3min.) Packed full of nutrition and delicious too boot – that’s a dessert you can feel good about eating for breakfast!

Asure

1 cup barley
1 cup dried white beans
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup short-grain rice
1 cup raisins OR currants
1 cup sugar OR molasses (to taste)
10 cups water
10 dried apricots, diced
10 dried figs, diced
1 tbsp. orange rind
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla

Optional garnishes: crushed walnuts, crushed pistachios, soaked and diced dried fruit such as figs, apricots, currants; pomegranate seeds …

Directions:
1) Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add barley and cook for 10min.
2) Turn off heat and leave barley to soak overnight
3) Repeat steps 1-2 for white beans and chickpeas in separate pots
4) Add 4 cups water to barley, white beans, and chickpea pots
5) Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until barley, white beans, and chickpeas are cooked (note: each has a different cooking time!)
6) In 16 quart pot, add 10 cups water
7) Add cooked barley, white beans, chickpeas, uncooked rice, and orange rind. Bring to a boil and cook 10-15min.
8) Add all other ingredients. Cook on medium 15-20min, or until rice cooked. Stir occasionally and add water as necessary – should have the consistency of tapioca
9) Turn off heat and let rest for 30min.
10) Pour into small bowls and add optional garnishes

For the version shown above, I used all the beans and grains listed. My dried fruits were figs, dates, apricots, and currants. I didn’t add any sugar as the dried fruit made the porridge sweet enough for me! I added a tiny splash of rose water which made the porridge smell amazing and added an extra layer of ‘exotic’ taste.


Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle

Yogurtlu Ispanak (Left) and Mualle (Right): Turkish Delights!

Yogurtlu Ispanak (Left) and Mualle (Right): Turkish Delights!

Visiting Turkey and crossing the boundary between two continents within one city is on my bucket list. Also on the list is to stand in Constantinople and sing that 50’s classic “Istanbul“). The country is so laden with history and a wide variety of ethnicities that I dream of the markets and cuisine! Turkey remains on the bucket list, so I settled for a Turkish feast: Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle.

Yogurtlu Ispanak is a sautéed spinach dish. Incredibly easy, it takes spinach to new heights. I generally loathe steamed spinach, but this was devoured in seconds! And made again, and again, and again … What I like about the seasonings and method is that it could be used for any green: swiss chard, kale, collard greens, and even dandelion greens! Almost a spinach risotto, if you omit the rice it would be a wonderful side to Lentils and Rice, for a super quick weeknight dinner. The creaminess of the yogurt (or substitute your favourite non-dairy milk) provide a delectable backdrop, allowing for the spices and taste of the greens to really shine. The best part is that you won’t even notice the creaminess – there’s only 1/3 cup added for the whole dish so it’s not swimming in cream sauce.   The recipe can be found here: Spinach with Yogurt (Yogurtlu Ispanak)

Mualle is basically Turkish moussaka, except much simpler to make! Another one-pot recipe, it tastes divine and a tangy variation of the beloved Greek classic. It’s a much lighter dish, almost like a ratatouille, with the addition of lentils – the protein power house. The ingredient list is so short that it’s an easy answer to the question “What to do with eggplant?” I could not find pomegranate molasses, so I turned to Google and made my own from pomegranate juice. Making your own pomegranate molasses is quite simple in theory: For every 4 cups of pomegranate juice, add 1 tbsp. lemon juice (to taste – the range varies from 1 tsp. to 1/4 cup). Heat on medium-high in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When it reaches the thickness you desire, take off the heat. In reality, this was actually quite difficult. I am not a patient person, and the juice was very much juice for the first 20min of the process. However, it quickly turns to syrup at around the 30min mark, and if you are not stirring it constantly the pot will boil over and you will have a kitchen fire on your hands. Twice, if you don’t learn your lesson the first time. So be forewarned: when they say stir constantly, they mean it! All that being said, it was the pomegranate molasses that made the dish. It added this sour tang to the casserole that would be sorely missed without. My best guess at a substitution would be tamarind concentrate, but that would be a poor one.

The recipe for Mualle can be found here: Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (Mualle). As I do not own a cast-iron casserole dish, I instead assembled the Mualle in a glass casserole dish and cooked covered for 45min at 425oF. Turned out wonderfully!

My first foray into Turkish cuisine was an unqualified success. Both dishes are seasoned wonderfully, with great flavour and zest. More tangy than spicy, they quickly became kitchen stand-by’s. Usher Turkey into your kitchen with these dishes, and you will not be disappointed!

or a Turkish feast: Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle.

Yogurtlu Ispanak is a sauteed spinach dish. Incredibly easy, it takes spinach to new heights. I generally loathe steamed spinach, but this was devoured in seconds! And made again, and again, and again … What I like about the seasonings and method is that it could be used for any green: swiss chard, kale, collard greens, and even dandlion greens! Almost a spinach risotto, if you omit the rice it would be a wonderful side to Lentils and Rice, for a super quick weeknight dinner. The creamyness of the yogurt (or substitute your favourite non-dairy milk) provide a delicatable backdrop, allowing for the spices and taste of the greens to really shine. The best part is that you won’t even notice the creaminess – there’s only 1/3 cup added for the whole dish so it’s not swimming in cream sauce.   The recipe can be found here: Spinach with Yogurt (Yogurtlu Ispanak)

Mualle is basically Turkish moussaka, except much simplier to make! Another one-pot recipe, it tastes devine and a tangy variation of the beloved Greek classic. It’s a much lighter dish, almost like a ratattouie, with the addition of lentils – the protein power house. The ingredient list is so short that it’s an easy answer to the question “What to do with eggplant?”. I could not find pomegranate molasses, so I turned to Google and made my own from pomegranate juice. Making your own pomegranate molasses is quite simple in theory: For every 4 cups of pomegranate juice, add 1 tbsp. lemon juice (to taste – the range varies from 1 tsp. to 1/4 cup). Heat on medium-high in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When it reaches the thinkness you desire, take off the heat. In reality, this was actually quite difficult. I am not a patient person, and the juice was very much juice for the first 20min of the process. However, it quickly turns to syrup at around the 30min mark, and if you are not stirring it constantly the pot will boil over and you will have a kitchen fire on your hands. Twice, if you don’t learn your lesson the first time. So be forewarned: when they say stir constantly, they mean it! All that being said, it was the pomegranate molasses that made the dish. It added this sour tang to the casserole that would be sorely missed without. My best guess at a substitution would be tamarind concentrate, but that would be a poor one.

The recipe for mualle can be found here: Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (Mualle). As I do not own a cast-iron casserole dish, I instead assembled the Mualle in a glass casserole dish and cooked covered for 45min at 425dF. Turned out wonderfully!

My first foray into Turkish cuisine was an unqualified success. Both dishes are seasoned wonderfully, with great flavour and zest. More tangy than spicy, they quickly became kitchen stand-by’s. Usher Turkey into your kitchen with these dishes, and you will not be disappointed!


Mujadara – Lentils and Rice

How can something so simple be so delicious? So delicious in fact, it disappeared before a picture could be taken!

Inspired by my Kushari recipe, I recently found myself craving lentils and rice. The parameters of Kushari (multiple pots, more than 45min to cook) however did not apply: I wanted food, and I wanted it fast. The solution was this lentil and rice dish which was so simple I almost feel like writing about it is redundant. Words cannot describe how delicious this is! Packed with protein and carbohydrates it’ll keep you full for hours. Think of the lentils and rice as a canvas for your seasonings de jour: vinegar and red pepper flakes for the Kushari feel, thyme and rosemary for an Italian take, cumin/curry powder and turmeric for an Indian flair – whatever your spice cabinet is telling you!

This dish can be prepared in less than 30min, and requires minimal supervision. If you’re feeling fancy, sauté some onions and garlic in the pot before adding the rice and lentils. Else sit back and be amazed at this brilliant weekday dish full of flavour! And did I mention that the total dishes required are one pot, a measuring cup, and a spoon?

Lentils and Rice

½ cup green, brown, or French lentils
½ cup brown rice (Note: white rice, quinoa, millet, or buckwheat could be substituted as they have similar cooking times)
4½ cups water (Measured using the dry ½ cup measuring cup)
Seasonings of choice (anything goes!)

Directions:
1) In large saucepan, add all ingredients. Stir to prevent rice from clumping.
2) Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until lentils and rice al dente and water absorbed, ~30min.
3) Optional: Stir occasionally while simmering**
4) Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5min before serving.

**I have frequently over/under-cooked, burned, turned to mush, and basically ruined lentils and grains more than once. I also overflow the pot frequently, and thus opt for the biggest my kitchen has to offer. Thus I am a nervous lentil-and-rice cooker, and the stirring solved all these problems! If you’re an old pro, you can skip this step.


Veggie Burgers: A Formula

The “Salsa” Veggie Burger

The burger is quite possibly the most recognized American contribution to the culinary scene. McDonalds has done a formidable job infiltrating every corner of the globe, so you can get your McD’s made the exact same way from Japan to Italy to Topeka, Kansas. I am not a fast-food fan, and had my last fast food experience on a Junior High field trip. I have nothing against homemade burgers however, and love them’ deconstructed’ (aka. no bun!).

I have experimented with various permutations and combinations of veggie burger. I’ve changed up the protein (from beans to almonds to sunflower seeds), the grain, how to cook them, what vegetables to add (if any), baked vs. pan cooked … you name it, I’ve tried it. I came across this burger recipe and am now convinced that it is the best burger recipe to date. Unaltered it results in delicious curry burgers, but it’s easily customizable to whatever mood you’re in. Above is this recipe tweaked for a “salsa” burger. I’ve also used this as a base for beet burgers, zucchini burgers, and lentil burgers – all delicious! The recipe can be found on Food Network Canada here: Boon Burger’s Buddah PattyIt is compliments of Boon Burger, a restaurant in Winnipeg, Canada which serves the best vegan burgers I have ever had. The restaurant was featured on Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here, which is the Canadian version of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. If you are ever in Winnipeg, be sure to check out Boon Burger. But until then, satisfy your burger craving with this toothsome, filling patty that surpasses all others!

Tips to Change Flavours:

The Legume: You can use whatever cooked bean you wish in this recipe. Black beans lend a more ‘southern’ flair; lentils and black-eyed peas are a neutral background that let your other flavours shine through; chickpeas add a middle-eastern or Indian flair; edamame for an Asian burger; or you could substitute the beans for the same volume of mushroom/walnut/almond meal!

The Vegetables: The best way to add vegetables to burgers is to grate them first. Squeeze out any excess water if they are particularly watery, like zucchini. Vegetables that I have had amazing success with include beets, carrots, zucchini, squash (butternut or acorn), sweet potato, or diced mushrooms.

The Binder: If tomato paste doesn’t match your spice flavour profile, tahini, 1-2 tbsp. chickpea flour, or more beans/grains also work. The binder helps hold the burger together, but I have found that if you use the food processing technique in this recipe the burgers hold well with or without the binder.

The Grains: Rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, barley, bulgur wheat … really any grain you want! Don’t be afraid to mix and match! Instead of potato flakes/bread crumbs, I usually increase the amount of grain and add 1/4 cup cornmeal or sprouted grains. The cornmeal/sprouts helps act as a binder while giving the burger a bit of texture.

The Seasonings: Season to your mood! Put in as much or as little as you want. These burgers are infinitely adaptable, so whatever strikes your fancy just throw it in! I really like the combination of thyme and beets, chili spices with black beans, curry spices with lentils/chickpeas and carrots, wasabi ginger burgers with edamame, and fresh herbs with zucchini. That’s the beauty of food processor recipes – virtually everything tastes delicious!

These burgers freeze really well, and don’t turn crumbly when you reheat them. They are excellent hand-held on-the-go meals, sure to satisfy your appetite for a while. If the thought of eating a patty straight doesn’t appeal to you, instead of forming burgers spread the burger mixture on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and top with standard pizza toppings. Bake the ‘pizza’ to the burger specifications, and now you have portable all-dressed burgers! So get creative and enjoy these burgers!

Note: Above I have the “salsa” burger with black beans, tomato paste, cornmeal, and chili spices. I served it over a fresh salsa salad, made of diced tomatoes, green bell pepper, jalapeno, and chopped cilantro sprinkled with lime juice. Delicious!


Kushari

Kushari is also known as koshary, kosheri, and koshari. However you spell it, it is an inexpensive dish from Egypt that is popular street food. Apparently some consider this to be Egypt’s national dish, so I had to try it! At first glance it looks to be a bizarre combination of ingredients, but when put together in a bowl it is and unbelievably tasty dish that fills you up quickly! The basic elements of kushari are lentils and rice, then a layer of macaroni or ditalini pasta, followed with a chunky tomato sauce, and topped with chickpeas and loads of fried onions. At first I was a huge skeptic – rice and pasta in the same dish? I even contemplated omitting the pasta, but in the end decided to stay true to the spirit of the dish. And am I glad I ever did! The dish is like a mini casserole in a bowl, and the flavour profile is amazing. With red hot chilis in almost every component of the dish, there is some nice heat to the combination. The marinated chickpeas and vinegar in the tomato sauce make the dish nice and tangy. But what really won me over was the fried onion topping. With just oil and onion, the dish is transformed from a 4-star rating to blown out of the park! As an added bonus, all ingredients are most likely already in your pantry!

This recipe isn’t hard, but it will use every burner you have on your stove. If you’re not careful, it is possible to boil dry your lentils and rice like I did, but with some more water added the dish was none the worse for it! Simple enough for a weeknight but fancy enough for a weekend meal or company. Serve with a fresh salad and enjoy the street food of Egypt!

This recipe is a compilation of various blog notes that I could find. Most didn’t have quantities of ingredients, and none had the exact amount of each layer. This is my version of these various hodgepodge recipes – I did my best to maintain the spirit of the dish while amalgamating all of these comments. I was pleased with the result, but by all means build your bowl to your taste!

Kushari

Component #1: Lentils and Rice
1½ cups brown lentils
1½ cups short grain rice
1 tbsp. ground cumin
6-8 cups water
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:
1) In large pot bring water to a boil. Add cumin and lentils.
2) Lower heat to a simmer and cook lentils until half-cooked, ~15-20 min.
3) Add rice; stir. Cover and cook until rice is tender, ~20 min. If too dry, add water as necessary.
4) Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir.

Component #2: Macaroni
8 oz. macaroni or ditalini pasta
water

Directions:
1) In large pot bring water to a boil. Add pasta.
2) Cook pasta until al-dente, ~8 min.
3) Drain and set aside.

Component #3: Garlic Vinegar Tomato Sauce
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
3 tbsp. white vinegar
2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:
1) In saucepan sauté garlic in oil until fragrant, ~1-2 min.
2) Add red pepper flakes. Stir.
3) Add vinegar, tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer.
4) Simmer ~20 min, while pasta and rice are cooking
5) If too thick, add water as necessary

Component #4: Toppings
1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground cumin

4-5 large onions, cut into thick rings or strips
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1) In Tupperware container mix chickpeas, red wine vinegar, coriander, cayenne, and cumin.
2) Place in fridge and let marinate until ready to use, shaking occasionally.

3) In large fry pan, sauté onions in oil until crispy and fried.

 Assembly:
To serve, layer components as follows:
1) ½ cup lentils and rice mixture
2) ½ cup macaroni
3) ¼ – ½ cup garlic vinegar tomato sauce
4) 2 tbsp. marinated chickpeas
5) 2 tbsp. fried onions


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