By FAYE LEVYPublished: SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 16:11Advertisement
Since this is the holiday honoring the harvest, I like to include a variety of vegetables. They impart good nutrition, make a rice entree colorful and contribute different flavors and textures.
Such a vegetable-studded rice dish can be a fine meatless main course, especially if it includes beans or nuts. It also makes a lovely holiday entree when you include meat, chicken or fish.
Just about every rice-loving cuisine has its own version of such rice-and-veggie medleys, from Chinese and Thai fried rice with omelet strips and soy sauce, to Indian birianis flavored with complex curry pastes, to Persian pilafs of aromatic basmati rice layered with tender meat cubes and fresh herbs, to Turkish pilavs cooked with tomatoes and olive oil, to Spanish paellas enhanced with a selection of seafood or meats.
For a Succot entree, I like to take any of these classics as a model and add extra vegetables instead of serving an assortment of side dishes. The easiest way to accomplish this is to choose quick-cooking fresh or frozen vegetables, such as zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, sweet peppers, peas or corn. Add them to the pan to cook together with the rice. If you have already-cooked vegetables, such as grilled eggplant slices or roasted red peppers from a jar, you can lightly stir them in, or simply add diced fresh meaty tomatoes at the last minute. Such a whole-meal dish is not only practical for serving in the succa; it's also pleasing to the eye and to the palate.
CUBAN CHICKEN WITH YELLOW RICE ANDBEER
Several friends of Cuban-Jewish origin have told me of their fond memories of family dinners featuring chicken cooked with beer and rice. My friend Steven Raichlen, an expert on Caribbean cuisine and a great cooking teacher, gave me his recipe for this Cuban style arroz con pollo. One of the glories of the island's rich culinary tradition, the dish is made of cumin-marinated chicken sauteed with a sofrito, or mixture of aromatic vegetables - onions, garlic, peppers and cilantro. In his version the chicken is braised with beer, wine and saffron. The savory chicken simmers with a short-grain rice similar to Italian arborio, or risotto rice.
â€¢ 4 large chicken breast halves, with the bone in, with or without skin
â€¢ 1 tsp. dried oregano
â€¢ 1 tsp. ground cumin
â€¢ 1â„2 tsp. fresh white pepper
â€¢ 1 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
â€¢ 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
â€¢ 1 onion, finely chopped
â€¢ 1 sweet red pepper, finely chopped
â€¢ 4 cloves garlic, minced
â€¢ 4 Tbsp, chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
â€¢ 1 tomato, seeded and diced
â€¢ 3 cups water
â€¢ 1 1â„2 cups regular beer (not dark beer)
â€¢ 1 cup dry white wine
â€¢ 1â„4 tsp. saffron
â€¢ 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
â€¢ 1/4 cup green olives
â€¢ salt and fresh black pepper
â€¢ 400 gr. short-grain rice
â€¢ 1 to 1 1â„2 cups peas
â€¢ 2 red pimientos or roasted red peppers (from a jar), diced
Place chicken in a glass bowl and sprinkle with oregano, cumin, pepper and lime juice. Let marinate for 15 minutes.
For sofrito, heat oil in a large stew pan. Add onion, pepper, garlic and 3 tablespoons cilantro and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Add tomato and cook another minute. Add chicken breasts and saute lightly on both sides.
Add any marinade remaining from chicken. Add water, beer, wine, saffron, tomato paste, olives, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer chicken for 30 minutes.
Place rice in a bowl with cold water to cover by several inches. Swirl it with your fingers and pour off the water. Continue adding water and swirling and draining the rice until the water runs clear.
Thirty minutes before serving, bring chicken stew to a boil. Stir in rice, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and gently simmer for 15 minutes. Add peas. If mixture still has a lot of liquid left, uncover. Cook 5 to 10 more minutes, or until rice is just tender. If rice becomes dry but is not yet tender, add a little more water.
Just before the rice is done, stir in half the pimientos. Serve garnished with remaining cilantro and remaining pimientos.
Makes 4 servings.
BASMATI RICE PILAF WITH SUNFLOWER SEEDS AND VEGETABLES
Make this colorful dish with shelled sunflower seeds or substitute roasted peanuts. To turn the rice medley into a heartier vegetarian main course, add cooked edamame (green soy beans) or chickpeas. Serve this easy-to-make dish as a light entree for Succot or as an accompaniment for a vegetable stew or for braised or roasted chicken or meat. I love it when made with aromatic Basmati rice, but you can substitute any long-grain rice.
â€¢ 1 cup frozen peas
â€¢ 1 cup frozen corn
â€¢ 2 to 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, butter (if using vegetable broth) or vegetable oil
â€¢ 1 medium onion, chopped
â€¢ 1 large carrot, cut in small dice
â€¢ 2 or 3 zucchini or pale-green-skinned squash (kishuim), cut in small dice (optional)
â€¢ 2 cups white basmati rice, rinsed and drained
â€¢ Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
â€¢ 2 cups hot vegetable or chicken broth or water
â€¢ 2 additional cups hot water
â€¢ 1 bay leaf
â€¢ 1 thyme sprig or 1â„2 tsp. dried
â€¢ 100 to 150 gr. white mushrooms, halved and sliced thin (optional)
â€¢ 2 or 3 meaty tomatoes, diced and drained
â€¢ 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
â€¢ 1â„3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
Thaw peas and corn. Heat oil in a large, deep saute pan or shallow stew pan. Add onion and saute over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden. Add carrot and continue to saute for 2 more minutes, stirring often. Add rice, salt and pepper and saute, stirring, 1 minute. Pour 4 cups hot liquid - either broth and water or just water - over rice and stir once. Add bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add diced zucchini without stirring. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly and simmer, without stirring, 15 minutes.
Scatter peas, corn and mushrooms over top of rice in thin layer. Cover and simmer 2 or 3 minutes or until rice is just tender, liquid is absorbed and corn and peas are hot. Let stand off heat for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig. Fluff rice with a fork and very gently mix in tomatoes, parsley and half the sunflower seeds, taking care not to crush the grains. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve garnished with remaining sunflower seeds.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Faye Levy is the author of 1,000 Jewish Recipes and Faye Levy's International Chicken Cookbook.
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