Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spanakorizo (Braised Spinach and Rice)

A beloved Greek take on spinach and rice - a little truly goes a long way. Greek Americans have earned a dubious repuation for being meat eaters and one notable movie has done much to further this myth. In reality, vegetarian meals are at the center of Greek cuisine. Many of my memoriable Greek food experiences center around meatless dishes. This was the vegeterian staple of my childhood and fostered my dislike of spinach. My mother used long grain rice which takes long to cook and considering the rice and spinach were cooked together the spinach was mushy by the time the rice cooked. Only during a recent trip to Greece did I experience a version with short grain rice closer to arborio in texture, then finally did the dish really shine.

My take on this classic dish trades rice for orzo and cooks each element seperatley ensuring the spinach retains some texture. I am trying to convince my mom to guest blog her version as well as other vegeterian Greek dishes. Enjoy!

Serves 2 as a side

1 cup orzo
1 cup water
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chopped curly spinch
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow or sweet onion, grated
1 scallion, chooped
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 lemon
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

In a heavy bottom pot bring to a boil the water and tomato sauce. Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt and the orzo. Cook according to packet instructions and drain if necessary.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pot. Add grated onion, dill, scallions and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Over medium high heat add the spinach. Mix well and cover pot. Allow spinach to wilt about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat.

Plate orzo and top with spinach mixutre. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve warm.

Friday, August 7, 2009

July Babies

Global warming- my behind! You will have to excuse my irreverent behavior. I am at my wits ends with mother nature. Summer is most closely identified with hot days filled with dreams of quenching lemonade or something a little stronger. The Summer of 2009 has had none of that. Frankly I sit in an office for the majority of the day and rarely get to enjoy the nostalgic benefits of summer. However, what really screams summer is tomato season. Even with my not so green thumb, I know these babies require sunlight, water and heat. For reasons that escape me and all politics aside, my tomatoes are not growing at the typical pace, and that makes me an unhappy cook!!

My father in his infinite wisdom convinced my husband to plant a variety referred to as July Babies. These plants yield smaller tomatoes and ripen in July. It's early August and finally I get my first taste of fresh tomatoes. At this rate, I will share my favorite tomato recipes during tailgating season. Instead of Brats we'll serve tomato pie, briam and tomato salads . I hope you hang in there with me.

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