I know a lot of you are in the thick of summer heat now – three days in DC last week reminded me what rain feels like. Also humidity. Yikes. While we haven’t seen a drop of rain in these parts for more than a year, thanks to the miracle or irrigation (while it lasts), we are still inundated with August’s produce.
During the school year, I get my produce from a network of mini farmers’ markets we run at 20+ schools here in Oakland, but come June, the markets close and I sign up for a CSA box. Between the Full Belly pick up and the 12’x12’ box we planted down in Soledad this spring, we’ve been running to keep up with our refrigerator. I know some folks resent the CSA onslaught and the inevitable forgotten head of wilted lettuce or bunch of basil, but I kind of look forward to the challenge. It gives me some dinner time direction and forces me to do some serious meal strategizing. I find I spend less on groceries, pack more lunches, and eat better overall.
That’s not to say there aren’t some things we’re growing tired of. We planted two whole rows of candy-cane striped beets down south this year, and with the ones from the CSA (pictured here!) we’re beet-ed out big time. I had to give away the last batch of borcht & dumplings I made because I simply couldn’t stomach another bowl. Tomatoes are coming in pounds too, but those we’re keeping ahead of with some blanching and freezing and a daily dose of mayonnaise slathered toast covered with thick cut red slices, sea salt and fresh pepper. That truly may be my desert island meal; I never get tired of it. Melons too have gotten the better of us recently, which sounds bizarre since those sweet and juicy globes are generally easy to love. But, eating through a giant melon (or two) each week with only two eaters has made me a little melon-averse. Luck for us, our neighbor’s chickens LOVE melon and I learned to make melon sorbet, which is not only delicious vehicle for melon consumption, but also essentially non-perishable.
On that note, today’s recipe is another fridge-emptying rescue mission of sorts: green rice. The only green rice I can remember eating is a delicious fresh version made by an old friend from Boston, with warm steamed jasmine or basmati rice tossed with loads of finely slivered greens (arugula, spinach, cilantro, basil, parsley or whatever you have), a few snipped green onions, olive oil, lemon, and salt. The version here is cooked – the greens wizzed together with hot chicken stock and poured over sautéed onions, toasted fennel seeds, and basmati rice, for an insanely fragrant rice that works as a meal on its own (throw a fried egg on it) or as part of a more elaborate meal as we did here with rock cod and creamy dressing. Better still, the rice is versatile enough to use any excess herbs or greens you have on hand, stems and all, and a great place to hide anything that’s a little past it’s prime.
Green Rice Recipe is adapted from Ad Hoc by Suzanne Goin.
Green Rice (serves 6…or 2 with lots of leftovers)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1 cup very well packed fresh greens, well washed – stems are okay (I used parsley and basil here – cilantro, spinach, arugula, even kale also work – I like to include at least some fragrant herbs in the mix.)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small diced onion (about ¾ cup)
- 1 small diced green or yellow bell pepper (about ½ cup)
- 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds, pounded in a mortar and pestle or with the back of a chef’s knife
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or ½ a crumbled chili d’arbol – more if you like spice)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice
- 1 tbsp butter
Combine the chicken stock and water in a medium sauce pan with a tight fitting lid and bring just to a boil, then remove from the heat.
Place the greens in a blender or food processor and add about 1 cup of the hot stock mixture. Process until the greens are broken down and the mixture is smooth, then add the remaining stock and process again to combine well.
Rinse out the pot and add the olive oil – heat over medium-high heat and when hot, add the onion, bell peppers, toasted fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp salt. Sautee until the onions are soft and translucent – about 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and stir well, then pour over the greens and stock and add the remaining 1 tsp salt and the butter. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed – about 15-20 minutes. Leave covered until ready to serve.
This rice is great on its own with a fried egg on top and a salad or vegetable. To dress it up, it’s also wonderful with any kind of fish. Here’s what we did:
Sautéed Rock Cod with Fried Onions & Capers + Creamy Lemon Yogurt
Begin by marinating the cod:
Coat four rock cod fillets liberally with olive oil, a little lemon zest, salt and pepper, and whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. Leave to marinate about an hour.
Next, make the Lemon Yogurt Sauce:
- 1 small clove garlic
- Pinch of salt
- 2 heaping tbsp whole milk yogurt
- 2 heaping tbsp mayonnaise (best quality)
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley, dill, and/or basil
- Few turns of fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp prepared pesto (optional – if you have some on hand.)
Pound the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle or with the back of a chef’s knife. If using the mortar, add the remaining ingredients directly and mix well to combine. If using a knife, transfer to a small bowl, add the remaining ingredients and combine well. Set aside in the refrigerator and chill until ready to serve.
Next, make the Fried Onions and Capers:
Have ready 1 small red onion finely diced, 1 tsp fresh rosemary finely chopped, and two tbsp capers. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small pan over medium and add the onion, rosemary, and capers along with a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are slightly browned and cooked through – about 4 minutes. Keep an eye on these as they can easily burn. Once cooked, set aside in a small bowl until ready to serve.
Finally, cook the cod:
When ready to eat, pour a glug of olive oil in a sautée pan large enough to hold your fish comfortably and heat over medium-high heat. Place some flour in a shallow dish and coat each marinated fillet in flour, and then place directly in the hot pan. Cook until golden on the bottom (1-4 minutes depending on the size of your fillets.) Flip, and cook on the opposite side, then remove and serve immediately or hold on a warm platter a few minutes until ready to eat.
To serve – spoon some rice on a plate, top with a fish fillet, a spoon of lemon yogurt sauce, and a spoon of the fried onion mixture. Enjoy! Beets are optional 😉