I make Greek barbecued lamb for Easter and I wanted a Greek starch side dish. I have done Spanakorizo (spinach rice) and Spanakorzo (spinach pasta), but I wanted to do something different. The Persian store near me carries large frozen artichoke caps and I decided to do something with them.
In the past, I would cook the rice or pasta in with the other ingredients. For many dishes like this, that is problematical—if you do not have the amount of liquid exactly right you end up with either hard, crunchy starch or way overdone, soggy starch. A few years ago I learned how to make the perfect Mexican rice.
The trick is to steam the rice separately and then make the sauce in a different pan. At the last minute, you fold the rice gently into the sauce to coat it. Restaurant perfect, flavored rice every time.
Karl’s Greek Artichoke Rice
1 ½ cups long grain rice
14.5 oz. (1 can) low sodium chicken broth, separate uses (vegetable broth for Vegan)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup onions, finely diced
1 tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
1 cup artichoke hearts, diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp. pepper
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 green onions, finely chopped, separate uses
1. Put the rice in a steamer pot and rinse until the water runs clear.
2. Pour half a cop of the broth into a cup to save for later and set it aside.
3. Pour the remaining broth into the steamer pot and add enough water—or more broth—to steam your rice.
Tip: For my steamer, it takes about 2¼ cups of liquid to steam 1½ cups of rice.
4. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, over medium high heat, until browned and fragrant, about two minutes.
Tip: Transfer the nuts to a bowl so that they do not scorch from the remaining heat of the pan.
5. Sauté the onions with the olive oil and half a teaspoon of salt in a large pan over medium high heat until soft, about five minutes.
6. Add the diced artichokes and continue sautéing, until the onions are starting to pick up some color.
7. Pull the artichokes and onions to the sides of the pan and add the garlic to the hole in the center.
8. Sauté one minute until fragrant.
9. Stir in the rosemary, thyme, pepper and remaining salt.
Tip: When you are mincing fresh herbs, pile them together and sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt over then. The salt draws out the moisture and oils and causes the little bits of herbs to stick together. This keeps the herbs from sliding around as you try to chop them. This is a trick I just picked up from the latest Cook’s Illustrated (May/June)
Note: If you are making other dishes you may make this up to this point and put it on hold for up to an hour. The final steps take only a few minutes to heat, stir, and serve.
10. When the rice is cooked, add the reserved broth and the lemon juice to the pan.
11. Bring the pan to a boil and fold in the rice, and most of the parsley and pine nuts.
12. Reserve a tablespoon of each for garnish.
13. Transfer the rice to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining green onion and pine nuts.