A SIMPLE SUPPER FOR MONDAY NIGHT
I'm just back from a fantastic week in the French Alps, where I surprised myself by learning to ski AND enjoying it immensely. One of the attractions of that part of France for me is the food: I love those warming, homely dishes like Tartiflette and Fondue. After a day on the pistes, a big slab of Tartiflette seemed entirely deserved, especially with the added luxury of having it cooked by our wonderful hostess, Jo.
However, now that I'm back home and my 20th wedding anniversary party approaches, I realise I need to go on a crash diet to get my sexy LBD done up. So some restraint is required in the food department, in terms of both ingredients and volume.
I'm not sure what to call this dish - I ripped it off from a Waitrose recipe which a friend gave me - but it definitely falls into my category of 'Temple Food', food that is satisfying, yet not too cloying, heavy or fattening (hopefully!). The sort of food that leaves you feeling pleasantly sated, with clean, fresh flavours that excite and cleanse the palate.
The rice is a great staple as it can be adapted. This version has slightly Asian notes, but it could easily be made more Middle Eastern in flavour the addition of spices like harissa, cumin and ginger. It also goes very well with chicken or lamb, both grilled or in a stew. Or just on its own.....
SPICY SPINACH RICE
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 aubergines cut into cubes (optional)
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
250g basmati & wild rice, rinsed well
½ 20g pack fresh mint, leaves only, roughly chopped
½ 250g bag of baby spinach
1 medium onion, finely sliced in half-moons
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1/2 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat, and fry the onion for about 10 mins or until brown. Turn up the heat and add the cubed aubergine, the sliced chilli, garlic, tamarind paste and sugar. Stir fry until the aubergine begins to soften and turns brown.
Meanwhile, cook the rice. When done, add the ingredients from the frying pan, then toss with the fresh spinach and mint. Add some more fresh sliced chilli to garnish, if liked. This is best served warm rather than hot. It is also delicious cold the next day.....
For a simple Monday night supper, I served this with salmon fillets, marinaded in Teriyaki sauce and then lightly pan-fried.