As I was grocery shopping yet again this week I realized that I almost never eat out anymore. The shocking reason, as I thought about it, is that I finally prefer my own cooking to anything I can find at local restaurants.
While it’s true that I have definitely made a steady effort over the years to become a good cook, I think it’s more the fact that I am becoming an old dog with certain tastes. Most restaurant food is either too salty and rich or — on the other end of the spectrum — just not flavorful enough for me.
This is one of the recipes that has me patting myself on the back this week and saying, “Hey girl, you’re pretty good!” It’s great on its own as a vegetarian entreé or with a lamb dish as a side.
1 c. long grain white rice
Turkish apricots – 5-7 chopped
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas
½ c Pine nuts
1/2 -1 tsp good cinnamon (I use Penzey’s Korintje)
zhatar or similar spice mixture that you love
In a lidded sauteé pan using the fat of your choice, sauteé a cup of the rice until the grains are translucent and starting to brown.
Throw in a couple tablespoons of zhatar (or your own spice blend to taste) and sprinkle with a tbsp of cumin. If you like a little heat, green chile powder works well. Add salt to taste. Stir well.
Throw the apricots and the drained chickpeas into the pan. Mix them in well with the rice.
Add 1 ¾ cup of hot or boiling water and stir again, smoothing the rice mixture evently across the pan with a spoon or spatula and making sure all the rice is covered with water.
Cover the pan and simmer on very low for about 45 minutes.
If you can, burn the bottom the rice just enough to make a nice, crusty, chewy layer at the bottom of the pan. It’s heavenly!
While the rice is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan or toaster oven. Keep a close eye on them. As soon as they’re brown and releasing fragrance get them off the heat as they burn very easily, and those suckers are incredibly expensive right now.
When the rice has absorbed all the water, let it sit for another 10 or so minutes.
Stir in some lemon zest (about half a lemon’s worth) and the pine nuts.
Serve warm in bowls with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.
Super yummy. Enjoy.