In Beirut, growing up, we used to go out for Italian food all the time; either for pizza or at a cafe in Hamra for lasagna or escalopes milanaise. My mother’s friend who left Egypt after Nasser started nationalizing everything even opened a tiny hole-in-the wall in Hamra making fresh pasta.
This is a very easy and delicious recipe I clipped from an old Bon Appetit magazine circa 1994. I had put it aside and vowed to try it someday. It just so happens that my 15 year old daughter loves quiche and risotto and this dish is both, minus the crust to fuss about….It takes about 30 minutes of attention and the result is great. Perfect if you are looking for a light meal, or to serve when entertaining because it can be prepared ahead of time. I adapted it slightly.
Spinach and rice quiche
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
3 cups chicken broth or water and a cube
4 tbsp olive oil divided
1/4 cup bacon, chopped or pancetta
1/4 cup onion chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, mashed or 1 tsp garlic paste
1 cup Italian rice or Turkish or Egyptian (or Thai)
1 16-oz pkg frozen spinach or fresh spinach, thaw and drain well
4 large eggs beat lightly with fork
1/2 cup parmesan, grated or similar cheese
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground black pepper can use white pepper or pink
2 tsp thyme can use oregano
2 Tbsp butter to coat pan
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs can use ground kaak or semolina
2 cups mozzarella, shredded can use similar cheese or fresh
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp salt to taste
1. Heat the chicken broth in a pan till it simmers. Saute bacon, onion and garlic in a large skillet in butter and olive oil. When the onion is translucent and the bacon (or pancetta)is cooked (around 5 minutes) add the rice and stir till it gets coated in the butter and oil, around 3 minutes.
2. Add the spinach, some salt and keep stirring while adding the broth gradually in 1/2 cup increments. Cook the rice by adding more broth or water until the rice is tender and creamy, about 25 minutes in total. Cool the rice and spinach mixture. It should have absorbed all liquid but retained moisture.
3. Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan or pie plate with butter and sprinkle some breadcrumbs and shake off. Mix the eggs, parmesan and spices in a bowl and then add to the rice and spinach mixture. Pour the whole mixture into the cake pan and spread it evenly. Cook it for 35 to 45 minutes till puffy and firm.
4. Right before serving, sprinkle the mozzarella and a couple tablespoons of cream on the top and run it under the broiler. Serve with a salad on the side.
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