I have to admit, Gentle Reader, that I don’t have the time to cook like I used to. Some days, it’s all I can do is chop some stuff and have a salad, maybe, if I’m lucky have a ripe avocado and unmoldy bread at the same time, avocado toast … ooh, maybe with toasted sesame seeds, a spritz of blood orange juice, a poached egg, and some pea shoots, or goat cheese (or something blue, a drizzle of strong honey and lots of black pepper, a poached egg, or one with chicken, frizzled onions, and you guessed it, a poached egg).
But that’s for next week when I share the secret to the best and most consistent way to poach an egg and that’s so easy you’ll think it’s magic … honest.
But back to this week’s dish.
Some nights I cobble together a tub of something I’ve bought, and what I’ve got in the fridge. Some nights it’s good, some nights I mindlessly eat it and it fills my empty stomach.
But some nights …
Once in a while you stumble upon something that is both a flavor lightbulb going off on your palate, but also, bonus, “Why didn’t somebody think of this sooner, and why wasn’t it already a thing?” good.
One Sunday, I had walked around downtown and come home with a couple of items from a Mediterranean deli. First was Lebanese potato salad. Potato salad, Gentle Reader!
The other was one of the greatest comfort foods of the Middle East: Lebanese rice.
It’s a starchy, carby mixture of rice and little pieces of pasta; something one might enjoy in San Francisco … as a treat, if you will.
A couple nights later I was looking for something quick and easy for dinner.
I decided to just heat up the pasta rice with some butter. I had picked up some shoepeg corn on the way home to add to it (I was looking for pajama-level comfort food, I guess).
Then I had a thought.
What if I added some sour cream? And I had some green onions in the veggy bin — kind of a riff on a baked potato.
But then …
I started thinking that the finished dish was beginning to get heavier and richer. If needed some type of acid in addition to the acid in the sour cream — something to brighten it up.
I decided to use my go-to acid: lemon. But I wanted the flavor a little more interesting, so I added Parmesan cheese and a dollop of Dijon mustard.
The result was a bowl of comfort food that actually manage to have real complexity of flavor, and something that would be delicious on any spring table.
All the comfort, and only 85% of the guilt.
Thanks for your time.
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*Fideo is inch-long vermicelli. You can find it (very inexpensively) in most grocery stores under the brand name La Moderna. Or, you can break spaghetti into inch-long pieces.
2 cups long grain rice
1 cup fideo
4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cracked black pepper
Set a large, heavy pot with a lid on medium and add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the pan. When it has melted and just starts to foam, add the fideo. Toast, stirring almost constantly, until browned.
Pour in the water and add remaining butter and rice. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low, and cover.
Cook for 15 minutes and check. When all the water has cooked off, remove from burner, leave covered and let it sit, undisturbed for 10-15 minutes.
Why wasn’t this a thing rice-ghetti
Lebanese rice, freshly made and still hot, or reheated
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sour cream
Juice of one large lemon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 cup thawed shoepeg corn
1/4 cup sliced green onions or snipped chives
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
In a large bowl, add rice, butter, and sour cream.
Stir until the butter has melted and ingredients are mixed through.
Add lemon juice, mustard, Parm, and corn.
Stir again until well mixed.
Service: Spread out onto a large shallow platter and garnish with chives and almonds.
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