"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Great Spanish Rice and Grilled Zucchini

I have always liked Spanish Rice, and I prepare it as a complement to a simple meat (like pork chops) or grilled fish.  It is spicy, a blend of many high flavors, and a dish which can incorporate many different additions. 

Grilling the common variety of zucchini (smooth, green skin) with spices is perhaps the best way to prepare it because it does not have a lot of flavor on its own.  This is definitely not the case with the Italian-style, ribbed zucchini (usually found only in season at farmers’ markets) which has high flavor and a slightly bitter taste which gives it character.  When the vegetables, coated in the spices are grilled, the garlic flakes begin to brown and caramelize, giving a special taste.

Spanish Rice

* 1 cup jasmine or other long-grained rice, cooked, then allowed to cool and dry for at least 3-4 hours

* 1/2 can low-salt tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water

* 1/4 lg. red pepper

* 1/2 medium onion, chopped coarsely

* 3 Tbsps.  olive oil

* 3 lg. cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

* 1 Tbsp. ground cumin

* 3 shakes hot pepper flakes

* 2 tsp. dried oregano

* 2 tsp. dried basil

* 10 leaves fresh basil, coarsely chopped

- Cook the rice and reserve, as above

- Sautee the garlic in the olive oil for about five minutes over moderate heat with care taken not to brown or burn

- Add the other ingredients, stir well, and cook for an additional five minutes until the red pepper is soft.

- Add the tomato paste liquid, stir well, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes (check at 30) until most of the liquid has evaporated.  You should be left with a thick, but not dry sauce.

- Mix in the cold rice and stir well until it is well-covered with sauce.

- Reheat slowly before serving.

Grilled Zucchini

* 2 lb. (approx.) or about 10 large-medium zucchini cut into 1/2 inch rondelles (rounds)

* 2-3 Tbsps. olive oil

* 2 tsp. garlic flakes (garlic powder is too strong; fresh chopped garlic is hard to mix well)

* 1 Tbsp. dried oregano

* 1 Tbsp. dried basil

* 10 grindings whole black pepper

* 2 tsp. salt (or to taste)

- Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well

- Preheat oven to 450F

- Place the mixed zucchini on a large cookie sheet (I usually put a sheet of tinfoil on the sheet so simplify cleaning later).  Spread out evenly

- Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, turning once after 15.  The zucchini should begin to get browned

- Turn oven to Broil and broil for about twenty minutes, turning after ten.  The zucchini should get very brown and some pieces even blackish. They will never be evenly done, but the grilling is finished when most of the pieces are browned.  The pieces should be moist, not underdone and watery nor dry and overcooked; so some attention is required.

- Place the zucchini in a frying pan, and before serving slowly reheat.

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