Rice Pilaf with Braised Greens
Watermarked from Above Large Bowl White Vignette
Mustard Greens by Dena T Bray

As I return from Cedar Circle Farm on the banks of the Connecticut River, my shopping basket is filled with fresh greens, radishes, herbs, lettuces and scallions. The growing season is short in New England, so when the bounty of locally grown foods comes available at the markets or in our CSA basket, I become almost giddy inside. Nothing tastes as as good as fresh produce lightly dressed and tossed in a salad or greens quickly braised on the stovetop sprinkled with fresh herbs picked from the garden.

It’s very much in vogue now to eat local, seasonal foods and with good reason―it happens to be good for us. Local, seasonal foods help us to be a part of the unique rhythm of the season. Think about how different a strawberry tastes in June as opposed to December, how freshly picked corn-on-the-cob  tastes in August as opposed to mid-March. Think about how good  you feel with every delicious bite of fresh foods.

While the bounty of fresh produce can be exciting, it can also be overwhelming to know what to do with a cornucopia of ingredients once we are at home in our kitchens. For this reason, my good friend Susan Readeand I are offering two classes:

A Tapas Evening on June 30

and

Simple Sauces, Pesto and Marinades on July 14.

The series is called Eating Well for Summer. You are welcome to join us for one or both classes.

Susan Reade, Certified Health and Nutrition Counselor, whose professional understanding of Ayurvedic* health practices will inform and illuminate the nutritional component of the instruction—the essence of why this is all good for us—while I will talk about some cooking strategies—how adding spices to hot oil changes the spirit of a dish or why a sharp knife is your best friend in the kitchen.  We'll talk about a well stocked pantry, time-saving techniques and tools, the best way to store fresh produce, how to pair flavorings and more. Together, Susan and I will answer your questions to help you make the most of the foods of summer.  We will prepare and enjoy a flavorful dinner together at each class. The menus will include dishes that are designed for instructional purposes, flexibility and absolute deliciousness.

This Brown Rice Pilaf with Braised Mustard Greensis one such dish. Made with fragrant basmati rice and a mixture of dried spices, rice pilaf is a versatile dish that can be served along with any of your favorite meats and vegetables to form a filling family menu. The addition of the braised greens brings a fresh component to the meal which is not limited to mustard greens―dandelion  or beet greens, kale, spinach―all do equally well with this dish. Any leftovers, can be added to a salad or turned in to a soup with the addition of hot broth.

Please join us for this these two fabulous classes. Bring a friend or family member. All are welcome.

Susan and I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors and eating well, soon.

Dena

*Note: Ayurveda (pronounced i-yer-vay-da) means “the science of life” and is an ancient system of holistic healing that has become increasingly popular in the West today. Ayurvedic medicine focuses on all area of health, including diet, lifestyle, exercise, proper sleep, and the mind-body connection.

Pilaf and Greens in Small Bowl Dena T Bray

RICE PILAF WITH BRAISED GREENS

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

For the rice:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1 cup long grained brown rice, preferably basmati
  • 2 cups light vegetable stock, heated to a simmer
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the greens:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, rinsed, stem removed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 large bunch mustard greens, washed, trimmed and stems removed as needed
  • 2 tablespoons Chardonnay vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For serving:

  • Handful fresh herb leaves, such as parsley or oregano, rinsed and patted dry

Instructions:

To make the rice:

  1. Place a quart sized soup pot on the stove top. Set the heat to medium. Add the olive oil and heat through. Add the chopped garlic cloves. Sautè briefly until they are golden, taking care not to burn. Add the Herbes de Provence and stir the spices with the garlic for a moment to release their flavors. Add the brown rice and toss it with the garlic/spice mixture. Stir the rice in with the other ingredients and cook until the rice kernels are translucent. This should only take a minute or two.
  1. Carefully add the heated stock and stir it with the ingredients in the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil. Stir one more time then cover the pan pot tightly. Lower the stove top temperature to low and cook the rice until all the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes.
  1. Remove the pan from the heat. Fluff the rice with a fork. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Set aside.

To make the greens:

  1. Put a large pan on the stove top over high heat. Add the olive oil and heat through. Add the sliced onions and sauté until they begin to become translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sliced red pepper, stir the pepper with the onions, then sauté until the pepper strips soften and begin to brown, about another 3 to five minutes.
  2. Add the greens to the pan and stir them with the other vegetables. Cook until they are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the freshness of your greens. Stir occasionally. Add the Chardonnay vinegar, stir. Then add the salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve:

  1. Place the cooked rice in the center of a large serving platter. Pile the greens decoratively around the rice. Garnish with fresh herbs.   Or, divide rice and greens between individual serving bowls and garnish with fresh herbs.
  2. Serve at room temperature.
  3. Enjoy.

Notes:

  1. If you prefer white rice, use fragrant long grain white basmati. Reduce the rice cooking time to 15 minutes.
  1. The rice can be cooked in the oven, if you would like. Follow all the stove top instructions, cover the lid and place the pan in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes for brown rice, 15 minutes for white.
  1. If mustard greens are not in season, substitute any fresh greens available.
  1. To make this a heartier dish, serve alongside grilled meats or topped with cooked eggs. You can also round out the meal with a platter of cheeses and a loaf of bread.
  1. If you would like to flavor this dish differently, substitute your favorite spice blend for the Herbes de Provence and garnish with the fresh herbs of your choosing.

Pilaf in Large Bowl, Partial by Dena T Bray
Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.