I recently had what I think (or hope?) is a common if less-than-perfect food experience. Namely, I really wanted to make this one dish that, left to my own devices, I normally wouldn’t make. I only had half the ingredients, though. Simple fix. I went to the grocery store, and bought the rest of the ingredients. It was only when I got home and started cooking that I realized I actually didn’t have ANY of the ingredients I thought I already had. So now I’ve started the cooking process still with only half the ingredients needed for the dish of my daydreams, and it was too late and I was too tired to go back to the grocery store. So, I improvised.
Originally the dish I had wanted to make was this:
This comes from one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve ever seen in my life: Plenty. The picture kinda gives it all away. This dish had lentils, roasted tomatoes, pickled onion, garlic, thyme, and a light bleu cheese. Only problem was that 15 minutes into roasting my tomatoes I discovered I had no lentils, and no bleu cheese. So, I ended up using brown rice and goat cheese instead.
Retrospectively, I think the original is more flexible in the sense that lentils and bleu cheese are “substantial” enough that the meal could work equally as well as an entree, or as a side for a bunch of people. Using rice and goat cheese makes it more difficult to have as an entree; however, it still is really tasty and does work well as a side. It also reheats well and is a pretty tasty lunch.
One last note: I know faster is NOT necessarily better with food, but I’ve got to find more efficient ways of roasting vegetables. I followed Ottolenghi’s rules to a tee, but this time it resulted in taking 75-90 minutes to roast about a pound of tomatoes. Which is just wrong on so many levels. Granted, they taste fantastic, so maybe there’s no getting around that, but it does seem a bit ridiculous time-wise.
RICE WITH ROASTED TOMATOES
- Half a cup of rice
- One clove of garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Approx. 1 pound of tomatoes
- Approx 1/3 of a medium-sized red onion, finely chopped
- Thyme sprigs
- Approx. 2 ounces goat cheese
- Cook the rice. If you don’t know how to do that:
- Put a 2:1 ratio of liquid to rice in a pot. Bring it to a boil.
- Once it’s boiling, put it on simmer, put a lid on the pot, and (depending upon your stove) in 25-40 minutes you’ll have rice.
- Roast the tomatoes. For that:
- Preheat your oven to 275*F.
- Cut the tomatoes into large bite-sized pieces. Toss them in olive oil and balsamic.
- Place the whole mixture on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Top with fresh thyme sprigs, and place in the oven.
- Depending upon your oven and your patience, in 75-90 minutes, you’ll have roasted tomatoes.
- While the tomatoes and rice and cooking, chop the onion. Place it in a bowl with some red wine vinegar, and let that soak.
- When the rice is done, add the onions with vinegar, and a garlic clove. Season well.
- When the tomatoes are done roasting, remove (but keep!) the thyme. Place the tomatoes without roasting liquid into the rice mixture.
- To serve, top with goat cheese and the roasted thyme.