Greek Vegetables, Beans and Rice

Once in awhile I get it right.  I mean REALLY right!  Tonight was one of those occasions.

I had finished reading 25% of the written assignments I received last night in class, so I am well on the road to completing grading in record time.  Barbara was out, taking care of our grandsons to give our daughter a break, so I could play in the kitchen on my own (that is, until she returned).

Sometimes I conjure up a dish in my mind, inspired by reading cookbooks, thinking about ingredients, and savoring the smells and flavors in my imagination.  Tonight it was slow-cooked vegetables, beans, and rice as done in Greek countryside cooking.

IMG_3964

I did have a head start.  A few days earlier I had soaked three different kinds of dried beans from the larder, then prepared them the next day in a Basque bean pot.  The varieties were Scarlett Runner, Controne, and small Black Beans.  They were happily resting in the bean stock from the cooking water on a refrigerator shelf , so they were ready to go.  I also had acquired some superb Greek ingredients in recent weeks, to enhance the flavors — Greek olive oil, Greek medium grain rice, oregano, Chili Flakes, and Caper Leaves — more about that later.

I was not working from a recipe.  Instead, it was purely by feel.  There were a number of little steps, not hard or too time-consuming, but as long I ate dinner by 8 PM, I was in no hurry.  Here are the steps:

  • cut one zucchine in quarters lengthwise, then in 1/2-inch pieces
  • place cubes in a strainer and sprinkle with Kosher salt, for 1/2 hour or more
  • cut one leek in quarters lengthwise, then in 1/2-inch pieces
  • dice about 1/2 medium onion in 1/2 inch pieces
  • chops celery hearts in a small dice
  • wash and coarsely chop baby arugula, 2-3 cups or more
  • chop 3 cloves of garlic
  • take a handful of good quality pinoli (pine nuts) and put in a small prep bowl
  • spoon 2-4 cups of cooked beans and their cooking liquid into a bowl
  • reserve 3-4 canned Italian plum tomatoes with some juice in a bowl
  • put 1/2 cup of medium grain rice in a bowl
  • put Greek or Italian oregano, dried and crushed, into prep bowl
  • do the same with chili flakes and caper leaves, in amounts to taste
  • prepare a pint of good vegetable stock, homemade if possible

Now, start cooking.  I had the good fortune of purchasing an 11″ wide, deep nonstick sauté pan from Zwilling via Food52 (a bargain at $69) recently, but any good sized skillet or sauté pan will work.

  • start with 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat
  • when oil is hot, and leek, celery, and onion, cooking until lightly colored and just tender
  • wipe zucchine dry with paper towels, and add to the sauté pan
  • cook a few minutes, then add pine nuts and garlic
  • add oregano, Kosher or sea salt, and black pepper (always freshly ground)
  • as zucchine begins to become tender, add the rice and stir
  • add all the stock and stir again
  • after cooking a few minutes, squeeze the tomatoes into the pot, along with some of the liquid
  • add the cooked beans and their liquid, then sprinkle on the Chili Flakes (smoky flavor is good here)
  • cover loosely and simmer until the rice becomes tender, adding stock, bean liquid or water, as needed
  • remove the cover, add some caper leaves if you have them, caper buds if no leaves, or just whisper “capers” into the pot if none else is available
  • add a couple more Tbs of Greek olive oil, stir and simmer a bit longer, until the rice is very nice and tender

Serve hot or at room temperature.  You could lightly dust the dish with paprika if you wish.  Serve with a full-flavored red wine.  My choice was AN/2 from Mallorca.

 

vegs and rice

cookbook and AN-2KoroneikiChili Flakes

Caper Leaves

Caper Leaves

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This entry was posted in Food, Greek food, Vegan, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Greek Vegetables, Beans and Rice

  1. canadianrainbow says:

    Yum!

  2. Barbara says:

    “…just whisper “capers” into the pot if none else is available” I loved it!

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