Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beets Rule!

While this is a dish made up of Jasmine rice, rappini and beets, the vibrant, bleeding red from the beets takes over without a bit of effort. Pink rice happens very quickly!

Summer produce finds are fabulous. A trip to the produce market provided freshly picked beets and a big, crisp bunch of bright green rappini.

I washed the beets and tucked them into a little foil packet with olive oil, salt and pepper and let them roast off in the oven while I was cooking something else. (Don't waste energy). They were tucked in the fridge patiently waiting for me to use them.

Driving home from my volunteer shift at the library bookstore this afternoon, I was a half mile ahead of our daily thunderstorm. I'd been in the house but a few minutes, when the skies opened up with booming thunder and flashes of lightning letting us know Mother Nature was alive and well. While the temperatures still hovered at 'very warm', the gray skies and ominous light lent itself to visions of warm comfort food.

The raw, green salad I'd planned with avocado and vidalia onions, took a quick raincheck (no pun intended). Instead, I quickly measured out a 1/2 cup of Jasmine rice and put it on to cook with enough water to cover it by about an inch. While that came to a boil, uncovered, I washed and cut the rappini leaves into a chiffonade.

Next, I started a generous tablespoon of olive oil in a 10" saute pan and tossed in half a chopped vidalia onion and a couple of minced garlic cloves.

As the onions and garlic became fragrant, I added the ribbons of rappini greens. Then, when the water in the rice was level with the top of the rice, I removed the pan from the heat, covered the pot with a linen towel, added the cover, and set the timer for 12 minutes.

Toss the rappini with the onions and garlic over medium heat, keep an eye on them, add a cover to the pan so they steam a bit. While the rice is resting and the greens are wilting, dress a couple of beets. It's easy to rinse off the skins, use a paring knife on any stubborn pieces. Then slice the beets onto a plate, salt and pepper and drizzle with red wine vinegar.

When the timer rings, announcing the rice is ready, drizzle a few drops of Pickappepa sauce over the rappini, toss to mix and then combine with the rice. Dice up the dressed beet slices and add them to the rice mixture. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.

This is a simple bowl of fine food. Quick and easy to prepare. Whole foods, filled with nutrients, easy on the budget, and pleasant on the palate.

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