|
|
Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Kitchen Call: Green, the color of spring

  • But we certainly want that spark of green on the plate, just to remind us of the warmer weather in the near future. Parsley is always around and can add its color and gentle, grassy flavor to something as easy as rice.

    • email print
  • We officially welcomed spring, although the temperatures don’t really welcome an at-home growing season yet. We’re still bringing in green vegetables from other parts of the country or from local greenhouses rather than right from the field.
    But we certainly want that spark of green on the plate, just to remind us of the warmer weather in the near future. Parsley is always around and can add its color and gentle, grassy flavor to something as easy as rice.
    Please don’t use that stuff that cooks up quick in the bag. If you’ve never tried converted rice, try the recipe here. After one taste, seeing that it is really just as foolproof as the quick-cook variety, you’ll never go back. All it takes is that 2-to-1 measure of water to rice and 20 minutes of just plain leaving it alone. Don’t stir, despite what you may see on TV.
    That aside, green beans are about at their best right now. And they’re usually at a good price in the supermarket. You can buy the nice fat ones or the little French ones. The French ones are more expensive, but the cooking time is less.
    Either way, all they need is even paring for looks, a pot of boiling water and restraint from the cook, just like the rice. Add a little olive oil and lemon. Watch that lemon, though. Don’t add until ready to eat, otherwise the beans will darken. Even if you overenthusiastically add the lemon, they’ll still taste good.
    Lastly, another side that can easily be a main course: broccoli rabe –– a vegetable that looks like baby broccoli. It isn’t, and it is much more tender. Another pot of boiling water, and add some pasta, which works some kind of magic on the greens, taming their sharpness as they cook together. If you can’t find the pasta that looks like little ears, usually available at specialty stores or very large supermarkets, substitute a small shell-shaped pasta.
    Parsley Rice
    Makes 6 to 8 servings
    You can change this recipe up with other light flavored, leafy herbs like dill or mint or cilantro. You can use a combination of any of these.
    Resist the temptation to lift the cover and stir the rice while cooking. The rice will turn out nicely fluffy and absorb all the water.
    4 cups water
    2 cups uncooked rice, e.g. Uncle Ben’s original
    1 tablespoon salt
    1 stick unsalted butter, cut in pieces
    1-1/2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    1. Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add salt to make the water boil more rapidly. Stir in the rice; bring the water back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, without stirring, for 20 minutes.
    Page 2 of 3 - 2. Uncover the pot; add butter and parsley. Remove pot from the heat and let stand for 3 minutes.
    3. Uncover the pot; fluff the rice gently with a fork to separate grains and mix the butter and parsley evenly. Serve hot.
    Lemony Green Beans
    Makes 4 to 6 servings
    Serve these beans hot as a side dish within a few minute of cooking. If you want to reheat and serve later, or serve them at room temperature as a salad, wait until just before serving to add the lemon juice or zest. Lemon makes green beans darken.
    1 pound string beans
    Salt, to taste
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    Zest of half a lemon
    Freshly ground pepper to taste
    1. Trim the tops of the beans on the diagonal with a paring knife, leaving the tails. Rinse beans in cold water; set aside.
    2. Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add a teaspoon salt so that it boils more rapidly. Add all the beans to the pot. Bring water back to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes or until the beans turn a bright green color. Drain quickly; transfer to a bowl. Quickly toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, and ground pepper.
    Broccoli Rabe with ‘Little Ears’ Pasta
    Makes 6 appetizer servings; 4 as a main course
    No cheese in this dish. It relies on a combination of sweet and hot flavors found in Sicilian cooking and substitutes toasted bread crumbs that look like grated cheese. Some cooks absolutely must have their cheese. If you are one of them, then cut the olive oil to 2 tablespoons, skip the bread crumbs, the pine nuts and the raisins. The results are delicious as well.
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup fresh bread crumbs
    1/4 cup golden raisins
    1 pound broccoli rabe, stems trimmed, then coarsely chopped
    3/4 pound orecchiette pasta, “little ears”
    Salt
    1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
    1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the bread crumbs; sauté until golden, 5 minutes; set aside.
    2. Place raisins and enough water to cover in a bowl. Soak, 15 minutes. Drain; set aside.
    3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt so that it boils more rapidly. Then add the broccoli rabe and pasta. Cook, 8 to 10 minutes, until pasta is tender but still has some chew to it. Remove a half-cup of the pasta water; set aside. Drain.
    4. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the pasta and broccoli rabe, the raisins, and nuts. Gently toss. If the mixture clumps together too much, add some of the reserved cooking water by the tablespoonful and toss gently. Serve with the bread crumbs over the top.
    Page 3 of 3 - Linda Bassett is the author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.” Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com. Follow Linda on Twitter @ Kitchen Call for a daily kitchen hint, trick, shortcut or info.
     
     
     
     
     
     
      • calendar