September 29, 2011

Lemony Greens 'n Things Rice

We all have go-to friends when we need to talk about this or that. For those who cook on a regular basis, we have our go-to recipes, approachable recipes you go to time and again. For me those include roasted chicken, pasta with homemade tomato sauce, and tortillas with spicy chickpeas, among others. Having your go-to recipes is an essential part of being a home cook. Cooking should be fun and engaging, but we can't all get creative every night.

With go-to recipes, there's no guess work involved. It's why we often turn to these recipes when we're feeling worn out - they're a way to relax and unwind. For many of us, these recipes are our comfort foods. Whenever I've been away from home for too long, I immediately want a simple dinner of pasta with tomato sauce and grated parmesan cheese. I think I start craving it even before I arrive home, and often make it the first night I get back. I've had that combination of penne pasta, tomatoes cooked with onion and garlic and olive oil with fresh parmesan cheese so many times that if I go too long without it, I think I start missing it. Like a friend, I need pasta and tomato sauce to be a regular part of my life. Pathetic? Maybe. True? Most definitely.

But like good friends, go-to recipes don't just come and go every day. You have to get to know them, know how they act, how to treat them and when to be with them. So when you find a new recipe that you're willing to welcome into your inner circle of go-to meals, it's kind of a big deal.

That's exactly what happened to me with this week's recipe. I was looking for something easy and satisfying, something that could be served on the side for a larger meal or stand alone for a lighter meal. When I came across a version of this recipe, it sounded good, but nothing too special. When I made it, however, I knew I was going to have a long-term relationship with this dish. The way the rice is prepared makes it a close cousin of risotto, but without all the hassle. Also, between the chicken stock, lemon, garlic and greens, it's full of flavor and holds up well on its own as a main course. It just might be worth having dinner with it one night soon - you'll be old friends in no time.

Recipe below.

Lemony Greens 'n Things Rice 
Serves 4
Adapted from Gourmet Today

-2 tablespoons butter
-1 small red onion, chopped
-1 cup white rice
-1 2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock, or 1 2/3 cups water and a bouillon cube
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, miced
-1 large bunch (1-2 pounds) kale, spinach or other green, tough stems removed, cut into small pieces
-juice of 1 lemon
-salt and pepper
-6 green onions, chopped (optional)
-1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the grains begin to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the stock or water and bouillon, cover, and bring two a boil. When it has reached a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook, covered, for 15 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and then immediately add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is ready, about 10 minutes. Add half the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and combine.

4. Add the kale to the rice, add half the green onions, and mix. Adjust the seasoning with more lemon juice, salt or pepper to your liking. Serve garnished with more green onion and a wedge of lemon.