You know what happens when you are a child and you are not particularly welcome in the kitchen? You start to rely on your sense of smell to give you an indication ofwhat is going on! For instance, if you smell ghee (samneh) sizzling in the pot, you know a stew is being made and it is in the early stages. If the kitchen is filled with the smell of garlic and cilantro, then you know you are going to get to eat soon!
Spinach and rice casserole is a homey dish for everyday cooking. What makes it exquisite is the cilantro pesto that is added to it, that distinctive flavor from the Lebanese kitchen, which gives it the deliciousness factor. An easy and relatively fast meal, 100% satisfying and healthy.
- 12 ounces package of frozen spinach or a fresh bag of spinach
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8 cloves of garlic, mashed with salt in a mortar (use less if you wish!)
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro
- Spices: salt, pepper, pinch of allspice and cinnamon (optional)
- 2 cups of Basmati rice (or any other long-grain rice)
- olive oil
Garnish: a handful of pine nuts.
Serve with yogurt.
Serve as the main event for meatless days.
NOTE: In order for this meal to be fast and easy, you should prepare the cilantro pesto in advance. So, the day before or 6 months before, wash and chop the cilantro leaves; peel the garlic cloves and mash them in a mortar with some salt till pasty. Fry a little olive oil in a small skillet and drop the garlic and cilantro and fry for two minutes, no more! Gather the cilantro and garlic to make a paste and collect in a jar with the olive oil. Freeze or keep in the fridge till needed.
- In a large pot, heat some olive oil; add the onion.
- Fry the onion till wilted and golden. Add the spinach and cook, cover the pot, over low heat, for 5 minutes till done. Add the rice and fry for 30 seconds to coat the rice in fat.
- Add water to the rice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Uncover the pot, add the cilantro pesto and mix well. You will continue the cooking for a few minutes until all the water is gone and the rice mixture is infused with the garlic/cilantro flavor.
- Adjust seasoning and serve warm with a bowl of yogurt on the side, or skip the yogurt if vegan.
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