Sunday, April 10

a delightful rice gratin.

I just love gratins! Potato, zucchini, cauliflower... you name it. If it's cheesy and golden on top, I want it. Unfortunately, potatoes aren't all that nutritional and the eggs and cheese can make it kinda rich. When perusing (one of my absolute fave foodie sites), I came across a recipe for a Spinach Rice Gratin that had pine nuts and shredded Manchego cheese in it. I took down the recipe thinking I could easily recreate this with whatever nuts, veggies and cheese I had on hand. This is a great recipe to use when you have leftover rice from the night before and nowhere to go with it but the garbage (or mixed in with the dog food!). This gratin is still made with eggs and cheese, but substantially less than you would normally find in say, a potato gratin. It still tastes delicious but at the same time quite obviously on the healthier side.

I have the original recipe from included below, but when I made the gratin I didn't have any tofu and used Gruyere instead of Manchego. I also added some red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Black olives is one of the few ingredients I just don't like, so left those out as well. A Mediterranean style gratin would be great, too -- try adding roasted red peppers, kalamata olives and feta cheese, and throw in some leftover chopped chicken if you aren't a tofu fan.

spinach & brown rice gratin
2 1/2 c. leftover/pre-cooked brown rice, room temp
1 1/2 c. well finely chopped spinach
4 oz firm organic tofu, crumbled
10 black olives, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/3 c. pine nuts or almonds, toasted and chopped
2 tbsp EVOO
1/2 c. shredded Manchego
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
Freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Grease a 10-inch round or square baking dish with a bit of EVOO. In large bowl combine the rice, spinach and tofu. Reserving a bit of each for garnish, stir in the olives, red onion, pine nuts and EVOO. Now stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs and salt. Fold the eggs into rice mixture, pour into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until casserole is set, and the top toasty and golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining onions, olives and nuts. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and fresh cracked pepper before serving. Serves 8-12.

roast cod with anchovies and white bean puree.

This delicious cod recipe is from one of my fave new cookbooks, pure simple cooking. (Thanks Lena!) It really is super simple to prepare and tastes absolutely gourmet. Start to finish, this meal took me about 30 minutes or so. It has few but powerful, palette-pleasing ingredients, which succeed because of the interplay of flavors -- the sweetness of cod, the saltiness of anchovies, and the earthiness of beans. The roast cod is served atop a bed of white bean puree. When you take a bite, be sure to eat the cod along with the white beans... it's to die for.

It doesn't get much better than Las Vegas in April; we enjoyed this meal outside with a nice glass of Chardonnay. One of my favorite medium-priced Chardonnays is La Crema, and its buttery finish goes perfectly with the fresh, saltiness of this dish. Yum-o.

roast cod with anchovies and bean puree
2 tbsp EVOO
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 (14-oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
2/3 c. chicken stock or water
S&P (*I added 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes as well)
1/4 c. EVOO
a good squeeze of lemon

1 (2-oz) can anchovies, drained
1 heaping tbsp. flat-leaf parsley
6 tbsp EVOO
a good squeeze of lemon
2 tbsp EVOO
4 (6-oz) cod fillets

1. For the beans, heat the EVOO in saucepan and gently cook the onion until it is soft. Add the garlic, beans, stock, and S&P. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes.
2. Process the bean mixture in a blender or food processor with the EVOO and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Keep this over low heat or serve at room temp.
3. Finely chop the anchovies and parsley together and stir in EVOO and a squeeze of lemon. (*I added some fresh cracked black pepper also.)
4. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat 2 tbsp EVOO in nonstick pan over med-high heat. Season cod with S&P and cook for 2 minutes, then turn cod over and cook for another minute. The fillets should be a nice gold color on both sides. Transfer fillets to roasting pan and roast for about 8 minutes, until opaque and cooked through, but still moist.
5. Serve the fish atop white bean puree and some of the anchovy dressing spooned over top.