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This is a variation on the rice with spinach recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s An Invitation to Indian Cooking, and it came about when I had three different kinds of dark leafy green to use up — kale, chard, and collards. I incorporated ricotta cheese in the final step for a bit of heft. The recipe will take much less time with the help of a food processor; otherwise, be prepared for lots of chopping. This would be an excellent side dish to some sort of fleshy or faux-fleshy accompaniment, be it lamb chops or hard-boiled eggs or grilled tempeh or (oh yes!) Quorn.

You will need:
2 cups long-grain brown rice
Salt
1 1/2 lb. fresh greens (kale, collards, chard, spinach, beet greens, etc.), washed & stems removed
6 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
2 medium-sized onions
2 1/4 cups stock
1 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 cup crushed unsalted pistachios
1 cup ricotta cheese

Soak rice for at least 2 hours with a teaspoon of salt. When this time has passed, wilt the greens by steaming them or dropping them in a pot of boiling water for a little bit, letting them drip dry in a colander.

Peel and roughly chop your onions, and process them so that they are very fine. Heat the ghee or oil in a 3-4 quart oven-proof casserole. Add the onions and sauté until they are golden; while you are doing this, process the greens until they are a very fine pulp. Add the greens and garam masala to the onions, and sauté over a medium flame for about a half hour.

Preheat the oven to 300°. Drain the rice and add to the greens mixture with the stock. Stir and allow the mixture to come to a boil; lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Test for saltiness.

Stir the pistachios and ricotta in with the rice and greens, and cover the pot with foil. Poke a few holes in to let steam escape. Bake for 30 minutes, then check to see that the rice is cooked. If not, bake 5-10 minutes more.  Serve hot right from the oven, or cook in advance and reheat for 15 minutes.

As Ms. Jaffrey comments, “This is an excellent dish to impress guests with because it tastes very good and looks spectacular.” It does look very nice, and although purists may frown upon the unorthodox addition of ricotta, it tastes very nice too.

6-7 servings

I love rice pudding, and I also love Indian rice pudding, known (among other names) as kheer. Here, kheer with carrots. This week I picked up Mariquita Farm’s Mystery Box — a setup kind of like participating in a CSA without a subscription — and was pleased to discover, amidst the dark leafy greens and turnips, carrots by the bunches. Stubby orange carrots, white carrots, and purple carrots. Purple carrots! Their core is orange, cloaked in eggplant-purple skin, with orange flesh peeking out in spots like a knee through ripped jeans. I used all my purple carrots and my white carrots (ghost carrots) for this kheer, which stained the milk rather drably (drably? There, I said it), though your regular orange variety will impart a cheery golden hue. And I’m wondering — what to do with carrot tops? Carrot top soup? This time around, I’m afraid, they are simply compost.

Along with Welsh rarebit and split-pea soup, here is a variant on rice pudding — carrot kheer — a member of the vast pantheon of comforting foods.

2 cups peeled, grated carrot
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 – 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
Some sugar, if you think it’s needed
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

While preparing your carrots, toast your pistachios on the stove until fragrantly nutty. Bring the milk to a boil, minding it so it doesn’t scald. Add the carrots, reduce the heat, and stir until carrots are cooked, but slightly toothy. Add the condensed milk and cardamom and cook down about 15-20 minutes until the consistency is thickened to your liking. If you prefer your pistachios soft, add them with the cardamom; if you like them crunchy, garnish at the end. Add sugar if you feel it’s needed.

Its flavor is slightly vegetal with a very tender texture. Eat this hot or cold or when you are feeling blue.

About 4 servings

Granola bars are easy and flexible — they take less than an hour to make and are a simple combination of things you love. Low on the glycemic index and packed with all sorts of powerful, healthful treats, this combination is a favorite. There are so many options — different varieties of grain, dried fruits, nuts… coconut flakes, carob chips, cardamom, molasses, lavender… the mind boggles.

Keep in mind that the dry measurements are approximate, and should add up to 5 cups total. You may like your granola bars chewier or drier; what you’re aiming for is a good ratio between wet and dry ingredients. Experiment!

1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 1/4 cup rolled spelt
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup agave nectar or other wet sweetener, such as honey or brown rice syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried gooseberries

Spread your dry ingredients, minus the fruit, onto a cookie sheet. Let them toast in a 350 degree oven, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for about ten minutes. While the toasting is happening, combine the salt, vanilla, cinnamon, agave nectar, brown sugar, and almond butter in a saucepan and stir over a medium flame until the sugar dissolves. You could also add a few pats of butter here, if you’re so inclined.

At this point, you have two options: to bake or not to bake. Either way, you’ll have a baking dish lined up and over the sides with parchment (if baking) or wax paper (if not) ready to go. An 11×9″ dish will yield thinner bars than a square 9×9″ dish. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, fruit included, in a large bowl. Spread the mixture into the dish with a spoon and cover with paper or plastic wrap so you can press it down with your hands.

If baking, put into a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes. For both baked and non-baked varieties, you will want to wait until the mixture has cooled entirely. The you can remove it from the dish with the help of the paper, which you’ll then peel off. Cut and trim; wrap in plastic for easy transport or store in an airtight container with wax paper between layers to prevent sticking.

Makes about 10 bars

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