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Israeli Couscous with Apples, Mint, and Feta

11 Oct

Isreaeli Couscous with Apples, Mint, and Feta 6

Sometimes, I admit, I take it upon myself to right the wrongs of this world. In many ways, I’m surprised that I haven’t gotten the shit kicked out of me at some point in the last 30 years. I’d like to think that my beard and size make me appear brazen, but probably not. I usually give enough contempt to get my point across while managing to stave off any potential ass-kicking coming my way. Perhaps bringing forth some examples might conjure up the reasons why I still have most of my teeth, only self-inflicted facial scars, and a largely in-tact nose.

In Santa Maria, California, the city in which I live, people generally do not regard “No Parking” signs or red curbs. One afternoon, a gentleman parked his truck right underneath a “No Stopping Anytime” sign to let his wife into the local mall and to enjoy what appeared to be a Marlboro Red. His obstruction basically caused a traffic jam on the little two-lane mall frontage road, and he was oblivious to it all. When it came my turn to pass him, I stopped, rolled down my passenger window, and addressed him thusly:

“I wish I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Like parking in a no parking zone, like you.”

“Me too!” he replied.

“You’re a complete asshole!” I replied, and sped away quickly.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone behind me in a grocery store line starts putting their items on the conveyer belt when I haven’t finished placing my items on there. As the conveyer belt keeps running, their items come towards me and slowly leave me no room for the rest of my stuff; I basically have to hand my groceries to the cashier because there’s nowhere else to put them. One time, a very tall and large man did this to me, and I pointed out his seeming lack of attention to the situation at hand.

“Calm the fuck down,” he generously replied to me.

“Oh! That’s wonderful! And thanks for giving my 3-year-old a new vocabulary word!”

“Get over it, jerk,” was his next insight.

“How about you wait until I’m finished and then put your stuff on the belt, which would be normal and intelligent.”

“Why don’t you just shut up?” he queried.

I said nothing at this point. But when I left, I got his attention and blew on my thumb until my middle finger popped up in his direction. I then left quickly.

Lastly, a few years ago in the autumn, my neighbor Mark alerted me that middle school miscreants were jacking apples from my tree on their ways home from school. “Jon, they’re filling their backpacks and takin’ ’em home. I mean a shitload of ’em.”

“Oh yeah?”

Well, that warranted a bit of stealth on my part. So, the next day, I hid in my garage with a view of the apple tree and my angry beard in tact. I waited until the first pair o’ kiddos was under the tree when I came around and cornered them. I’m guessing one had to do an underwear check at home after I lifted him up by his backpack a foot off of the ground, spewing vitriol and police threats, his friend darting toward the sidewalk. I’ve never seen two teenagers run so fast in my life. After five more confrontations that afternoon, I was exuberant and my tree protected. To this day, almost three years later, kids walk on the other side of my street and eye me suspiciously. The lore has been passed down. Siblings know who I am if they get my class and I get a full load of apples every year now.

So, after reviewing these instances, I realize that cowardice underlies a lot of the reasons why I haven’t gotten a good beating. Alas. But I’m getting braver, so we’ll see…

Most importantly, now that I have all of my apples, I can make all sorts of bitchin’ dishes, such as this Israeli Couscous with Apples, Mint, and Feta. This is an easy fall side which pairs excellently with any Mediterranean dish, I would think. I got the base recipe from delish.com and only tweaked it a bit. They make this a cold salad, but I made it as a warm side dish. Both rock, I would guess.

Israeli Coucous with Apples, Mint, and Feta

Serves 6 or so

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 cup Israeli couscous

2 cups water

1/4 tsp. salt or to taste

2 tbsp. minced shallot (use onion in a pinch)

2 apples, cored, peeled, and diced (Use whatever kid you have; I have Granny Smith and they work famously.)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (I omit them to cut the fat and calories)

1/2 tsp. oregano (1 tsp. freshly chopped, if you have it)

4 oz. crumbled Feta cheese

Freshly ground pepper to taste, about 1/2 tsp.

Makin’ It:

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the couscous and get it golden brown, shaking the pan occasionally, about 3 minutes or so. Add in the water and the salt and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer it until it’s tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the couscous.

In the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Add in the shallots and saute them until soft, about 3 minutes. Add in the apples and the drained couscous and let them get happy for a few minutes, stirring a few times. Remove this from the heat and transfer it to a large bowl.

In that bowl, add in the lemon juice, chopped mint, pine nuts (if using), and the oregano. Stream the last tablespoon of olive oil over it and toss it all together lightly. Transfer it to a serving dish. Top it with the Feta crumbles and pepper. Serve. Easy as a hippie needing a beer at Burning Man.

Isreaeli Couscous with Apples, Mint, and Feta 7

And if you need apples, I got a ton. You’ll find me hiding in the garage.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

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Mashed Butternut Squash a la Weight Watchers

3 Oct

Weight Watchers Mashed Butternut Squash 5

Since I’m Italian, I get to tell Italian jokes. So there’s an old joke that goes something like this:

A Frenchman, an Englishman, and an Italian are lined up at the pearly gates to get into heaven. When they approach the gates, St. Peter says to them, “To gain admittance to heaven, each of you much pass a spelling test.”

The Frenchman, never daunted, goes first. “Spell ‘house,'” says St. Peter. “House. H-O-U-S-E. House.” The gates open and he enters.

The Englishman comes next, cocky bastard that he is. “Spell ‘goal,'” says St. Peter. “Goal. G-O-A-L. Goal.” The gates open and he enters.

Guiseppe walks up next and St. Peter asks him, “You’re Italian, right?”

“Yes.”

“Spell ‘onomatopoiea.'”

I felt like this a few weeks ago when I and my student partner were dismissed from the podium for my misspelling of the word “cromlech” (pronounced crom-lek) in my first spelling bee since I was probably ten. “Cromlech,” you see, is a word that describes prehistoric megalithic structures. Stonehenge would be an example of a cromlech. And of all of the people that could have been asked to spell it in that room, I would guess that I would be most qualified to do so correctly; I majored in English, my specialty is medieval and Renaissance British literature, I watch archaeological documentaries on ancient Europe whenever I can find them (I remember at least three focusing on Stonehenge, no less), I am an anglophile to the hilt. I actually touched a cromlech in Ireland, I later learned.

I spelled it “c-h-r-o-m-l-e-c-h,” and was thus stripped of a potential trophy for a good cause (“ch” at the end, so it should be at the beginning, too, right? No. It’s Welsh, and therefore makes little sense linguistically). What’s worse is that the team after us got the word “hoary,” as in hoarfrost, or the lichen and mossy stuff that hangs off of old trees. It’s also used to describe old, grizzled people, like Gandalf. Hoary I read regularly. It’s actually one of my senior English class’s vocabulary words because it’s so common in British literature. Cromlech vs. hoary? What the fuck. It’s my beard they distrust, I know it.

So how does this figure into a recipe for mashed butternut squash? I think that when I first started the Weight Watchers program, I would sincerely pine for certain items, mashed potatoes being one of them. How can there be a substitute, a worthy substitute, for buttery, starchy goodness? I was biased against them at first, saying to myself, “Those can’t possibly be good. And they’re hard to make, I bet. Too much work,” etc. In essence, I was treating the substitutes as the Italian at the pearly gates and I at the podium were treated: I didn’t give them a fair shake. And if I continued to be slanted against those recipes, I surely should have gone to hell, just like the whore-y female announcer, the one who picked “cromlech” for my team and “hoary” for the next team, should and will.

This recipe will have your cockles tingling. It’s got some substance, it’s unbelievably tasty, and it works well with roasted or grilled chicken. It screams “autumn,” which can get annoying when I’m trying to cook. I got it from a website called skinnykitchen.com and didn’t mess with it much. Each 1/2 cup serving is a 2 on the old Weight Watchers system (PointsPlus and 360° can go fuck themselves).

Mashed Butternut Squash a la Weight Watchers

Serves 5 or so, 1/2 cup servings (2 points on old WW)

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds peeled and cubed (if you want to know how to do this, go to the bottom of this recipe: https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2013/02/15/pasta-e-zucca-squash-and-pasta/)

2 tbsp. brown sugar

3 tbsp. lite margarine or reduced fat butter, melted

a dash o’ cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt or to taste

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup low-fat milk (I use 1%), heated a bit

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Put the cubed squash in a big bowl and sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Pour on the melted margarine and toss this all together well.

Pour this onto a cookie sheet and spread it out evenly. Make sure you pour out all of the liquid over it, too. It’ll look runny, but that’s ok. Put this in the oven for 40 minutes, tossing them with a spatula after about 20 minutes.

Once they’re cooked, put the cooked squash, the pan liquids, and the heated milk in a food processor (a masher doesn’t work, kids. A blender? Maybe.).  Process this until the it’s pureed. Transfer it to a bowl and serve it hot. Bob’s your uncle.

Weight Watchers Mashed Butternut Squash 1

May you find a hoary cromlech on the road ahead of you.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino

p.s. This post is dedicated to the friend and colleague who got me to compete in the spelling bee and has been an inspiration in so many ways.

Chipotle Spanish Rice

29 Jun

Chipotle Spanish Rice Top

Chipotle peppers have made quite a name for themselves over the last few decades or so. The eponymous restaurant chain has obviously spread the name a bit, but even before it, these little smokey chiles began popping up all over the place in recipes. Have you ever had Subway’s chipotle mayo? Do so. It kicks ass.

Over ten years ago, I remember reading recipes in Bon Appetit that called for “canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.” So I bought a can and looked/ marveled at it for some time, wondering what to do with it. Until then, I thought that the “chipotle” was the area that everyone else calls the “taint” on the human body. I guess I was out of the loop on this. Personally, I like chipotle better, you know: it imparts more of a spicy flavor profile, if you catch my drift. The taint, well, ’tain’t much soul there.

In any case, the first time I used these in a recipe, it was for enchiladas or something of the like, back in the early days of my learning to cook.  I remember the distinct smoky aroma as I chopped them up and I did notice a lot of seeds. “Bah,” said I, “seeds will give it more flavor. These can’t possibly be spicy.” Wrong. I can handle spice, but my wife, then my girlfriend/ roommate, looked as though her alabaster skin had been assaulted by scrub pads. Between trying to take bites and wiping her brow, she indicated that she could go on no further. While the enchiladas were great (lie), the chipotle spice had done her in, she said. I noted mentally to remove seeds from chiles and peppers thenceforward.

I posted a Spanish rice recipe a while back (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2013/01/18/idiot-proof-spanish-rice/), and I make this regularly. But as often happens, I started thinking. I wanted some variation on it. I looked in the pantry, saw that can o’ chipotle peppers, and my mental gears started cranking noisily, like a rickety North Korean space shuttle. The recipe below is what emerged, and it blew our socks off. Like my other rice recipe, this is simple to make and quite healthful, too.

Remember, remove the seeds from the peppers as you mince them. It’s a messy job, but the appearance of the peppers isn’t important because they blend in with everything else.

Chipotle Spanish Rice

Makes about 8 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. oil

1 tsp. chili powder

2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained

1 cup water

1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and peppers minced, reserving some the sauce

3/4 cup uncooked, washed rice

1 cup frozen green peas, somewhat defrosted or not (not that important), or fresh, if you have them.

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

Makin’ It:

In a large skillet, heat the oil  over medium- high heat and cook the onion until tender, about 6 minutes. Add in the minced garlic during the last minute so as not to burn it. Add the chili powder and cook another minute.

Next, stir in the undrained tomatoes, rice, water, chipotle peppers, peas, salt, and pepper. Add in a tablespoon or so of the reserved adobo sauce, too. This is key to the overall flavor. Get this boiling. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer it 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and the liquid it absorbed.

(Note: A good trick for checking if the liquid is absorbed is to run a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pan. If the spoon leaves a path without juice filtering onto it, you’ve nailed it.)

Add in most of the black olive slices and stir. Check for salt and pepper and adjust, if needs be. Transfer it to a serving dish and top with the remaining black olives. You’ll get this:

Chipotle Spanish Rice

‘Tis easy to make and ’tain’t bad for you or your chipotle. 3/4 cup of this is a Weight Watchers 3 on the old system (Points Plus and 360° can fuck off to an alarming depth). Top with some grilled chicken, and you have a meal unto itself.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash: The Perfect Side

19 Apr

Weight Watchers Roasted Butternut Squash (3)

When it comes to keeping a healthy weight, I think 95% of people have an Achilles heel that makes it difficult to maintain the ideal weight and figure (the other 5% are actresses, supermodels, men named Troy, and women invariably named Jenni, spelled with an “i”).  Through the years, I’ve noticed that many people’s downfall is sweets; when 9 p.m. rolls around, the ice cream beckons, the cookies croon, and the snack-size candy bars bare their chocolaty nipples (both male AND female candy, I might add).  I’m lucky in that I can take or leave sweets.  Every so often, I go through a peanut butter and chocolate kick, but it doesn’t last long and I remember that beer is much more fulfilling on so many levels.

No, my bad eating habit is primarily carbs.  I love them.  And I love bad carbs, too, like chips, French fries, bread, potato salad, more chips, and beer.  I have actually made a ham and potato salad sandwich for lunch, and added a healthy side o’ Doritos to round it out, and I had no guilt whatsoever because I was too busy marveling at my hill-billy ingenuity.

In Ireland, for example, when the pubs close, often a food truck waits outside for its progeny.  In this remarkable institution, they make something called a “Chip Butty.” It is basically a hamburger with French fries substituted for meat. I think I almost cried the first time I had it because it was like we were meant for each other and I had to go all the way to Clifden, Ireland, to consummate the serendipitous meeting.  *sigh*

Anyhow, when I started trying to lose the weight, I realized that the potatoes and carbs had to go, not totally, but mostly.  Whole grain breads and crackers (if any) are the norm for us now, and when I’m just maintaining weight (rather than losing), those Pop Chips or any baked chips do it for me.

But what the hell is a good substitute for potatoes?  For us, it’s butternut squash.  It’s high in fiber, counts as a veggie, is flavorful, and still has the “weight” of a carb-heavy potato.  I probably butchered 3 of these a week for a year. When I lost a lot of weight, I attribute it partly to eating hardly any potatoes and a lot of squash.  It makes a good mash (which I will share later), but to simply roast it with some spice is magic.  It’s a staple on my Thanksgiving table and I never have leftovers.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Makes 4 servings depending on the size of the squash; 1 cup is an old Weight Watchers 1

Ingredients:

1 good size butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cubed (see below)

1  to 2 tsp. salt (or to taste)

2 tsp. chili powder (or cayenne (careful), paprika, or smoked paprika)

Cooking spray (Pam works, but the olive oil one is best)

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 425°.  Spray a baking sheet with some cooking spray.

To peel a butternut squash, lay it on its side, cut off the ends, and then slice it into disks.  Peel each disk, spoon out the seeds of the disks that have them, and then cut them into 1″ cubes.

Make one even layer of squash on the cooking sheet and give it a good spray to coat all of the squash well.  Sprinkle on the salt and chili powder.  Mix this up by hand to distribute the spice evenly. Spray a little more spray on it for good measure.  Put it in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, tossing them after 20 minutes of roasting.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.  ‘Tis a piece of cake.

Weight Watchers Roasted Butternut Squash (4)

The keys to losing weight are cutting the carbs, upping the fiber, keeping the portion sizes down, and walking a bunch.  It’ll work for you….and this recipe will make it more enjoyable for sure.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Israeli Couscous

13 Apr

Israeli Couscous 3

In one of my first posts, I shared an Israeli couscous recipe attached to a recipe for tandoori chicken pitas.  The pictures were horrible and did not do the dish justice.  Moreover, it was part of a very convoluted post and it was the first time I made it.  Since then, I have made it a few times, tweaked the recipe, and I am now certain that this will make anyone’s nipples erect and tingly.  So I decided to do a separate post on it.

This dish could be a meal in and of itself.  If you grill up some chicken breasts, slice them, and put it on top of this, you have a very healthy and tasty dinner.  Use vegetable broth and it’s vegetarian.  Any sort of candied nuts will do, and they are easily made if you have plain ol’ nuts in the pantry (“Nuts in the Pantry” sounds like a great album name or a Three Stooges episode, no?).

This recipe was originally inspired by the recipe on the back Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous.

Israeli Couscous

Serves 6 at least

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup red onion or shallots

1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable would be best)

1/2 tsp. salt

a handful of chopped parsely, chopped

lemon zest from 1/2 of a lemon

1/4 cup chopped candied nuts (I got the candied walnuts from Trader Joe’s and they’re unreal) or pine nuts

1/4 cup of raisins or similar dried fruit (figs, cranberries, etc.)

black pepper to taste

Makin’ It:

In a medium sauce pan over medium to medium high heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onion until it’s golden, about 7 minutes.  Add the couscous, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf, and saute until the couscous starts to get golden, about four minutes and stirring often.

Slowly pour in the chicken broth and add the salt.  Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let cook for 12 minutes or until tender.  Uncover, fluff, add in the parsley, lemon zest, nuts, raisins, and pepper, and mix well. Sprinkle with additional parsley and you’re rockin’, like this:

Israeli Couscous 2

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

3 Mar

Carrot and Avocado Salad 010

I think one of the biggest compliments I have ever received on a dish I have made was for this one.

A few years ago, I made this as a side for my Baked Penne with Butternut Squash and Ricotta (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2012/12/26/baked-penne-with-butternut-squash-and-ricotta/).  I had a meeting that evening at school, and I knew that my principal probably had her nose to the grindstone the entire day, so I decided to bring her some dinner (I AM Italian, so I want to feed everyone if I can).  I showed up a bit early for the meeting, gave her the dishes, and went to grade some papers until the meeting started.  About ten minutes later, I heard, “Jon!  What did you put in that salad?  My mouth is dancing with flavor right now!” I explained the recipe below and told her I would send it to her.  I even got a thank you note for this with similar sentiments on how much she loved the salad.  The reason this was such a big compliment to me is because I know that she’s a foodie, and I managed to impress her with some flavors that she hadn’t experienced.

If anyone makes this salad, you will totally understand why anyone would be impressed.  This is not a pussified salad either; it borders on a main course, and its flavors will titillate the erogenous zones of an entire party, if you make it for them.  The substance of the roasted carrots, avocado, and grilled bread, kissed with the seeds and the dressing, create pure pleasure and satisfaction.  It took me about an hour and a half to make it the first time, but now that I got the hang of it, it’s 45 minutes tops.

By the way, this recipe, with only a few modifications, is straight from Jamie Oliver, that British kid whose food show is quite bitchin.’  But, he’s British and therefore writes in a funny accent and he uses the metric system.  I write using the U.S. Customary Unit, which isn’t nearly as confusing as the metric system, that 10-based thingie where everything translates logically and easily. Most importantly, I do not write in a funny accent, so I have an edge on him.

A few years ago, Jamie would do a half-hour show (Jamie Does…wherever) that focused on dishes of a particular region.  The recipes from Morocco totally intrigued me because I was almost completely uneducated as to the culture and cuisine. So I went on sort of a Moroccan kick for a while, and I will write about those recipes in the coming months because they tend to be more springy and summery dishes (Africa can be hot, from what I hear).

In any case, this would be a great salad to make and serve a while (like an hour) before dinner because it is filling.  It will give people more incentive to drink good wine and loosen their jaws a bit.

Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

Serves about 4

Ingredients:

1 lb. carrots, the neato heirloom ones are best, but regular ones are fine too

2 tsp. cumin seeds

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. each of salt and ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 1/2 tsp. dried

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 orange, halved

1 lemon, halved

2 or 3 ripe avocados (I love more, but it’s up to you)

Ciabbata or a rustic-type bread, cut into about four slices, and grilled a bit

Enough mixed greens for four small salads, washed and drained

1/2 cup sour cream

4 tbsp. mixed seeds (I used poppy and sesame, and I would have used pepitas if I had them)

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

You can peel or not peel the carrots, depending on your preference.  Cut the ends off of them and put them in some boiling water (to parboil them) for about 10 minutes.  While they’re boiling, make the seasoning for the roasting part.

Using a mortar and pestle (I am guessing a spice grinder would work here too, but not when you add the garlic and wet ingredients), smash up the cumin seeds, chilies, salt, and pepper.  Add the garlic and the thyme and smash all of this up into a kind of paste.  Add in the olive oil to cover up the paste (add more if you need to)  and the vinegar.  This is the marinade for those carrots when they come out of the boiling water.

Put the halved oranges and lemons face down in a roasting or baking dish.  Drain the carrots, add them to the baking dish, and carefully coat them with the herb-y paste-y marinade. Roast this for 30 minutes.

While everything’s in the oven, cut the peeled and pitted avocados into slices.  Wash the greens and get your act together.

When the carrots are done, remove them and divide them amongst four plates.  Carefully and using tongs, squeeze the orange and lemon halves well into a bowl  (I mean carefully because the fruit will be fucking hot).  Add an equal amount of olive oil and a swig of red wine vinegar (1 tbsp. or so, but taste and adjust if you need to, kiddo).  Season it with salt and pepper.

Divide the avocado between the four plates.  Take the greens and toss them with some of the dressing.  Top the avocado with the greens, dollops of sour cream, and the seeds.  Tear pieces of the grilled bread around it too.  Drizzle  more of the dressing over the salads and serve.  You will get this:

Carrot and Avocado Salad 016

The colors alone warrant a collective thrill and hug-fest.  Get some wine involved and lifetime friendships will be made, to be sure. There are lots of Moroccan chicken soups and stews that would compliment this salad well.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Idiot-Proof Spanish Rice

18 Jan

Spanish Rice 2

There are a million recipes for Spanish rice out there.  The one I found in the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook nails it for me, with a few variations, of course.

I think the best part about this recipe is that it is, indeed, idiot-proof.  If you know how to chop an onion and open a can, then you’ve got it.  It takes 1/2 an hour from start to finish, and everyone’s happy when they get it.  If you do Weight Watchers on the old system, it’s a 3 for 3/4 of a cup, which is a good deal because this is filling.

I serve this with any Mexican meal, from burritos to enchiladas to tostadas to whatever.  You can make this a meal unto itself; grill up some chicken or chorizo, slice it up, and put it on top of a portion of this rice, and Bob’s your uncle.

Idiot-Proof Spanish Rice

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onion (use a variety, if you have them…it makes it muy sexy)

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (for whatever reason, I’m always out when I make this, so I just omit it totally and it’s just fine)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping tbsp. chili powder (heaping means a big one, wise guy)

2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained (or the equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes, of course, chopped and their juices saved)

1 cup water

3/4 cup uncooked and washed white rice

1 4 oz. can diced green chilies, undrained

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 black pepper or to taste

About 5 dashes of a vinegary hot pepper sauce, like Tabasco (not Tapatio)

1/2 cup green or black olives, sliced

Makin’ It:

In a large skillet that has a lid, get the oil hot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, peppers (if you’re using them), and garlic.  Saute these until they’re tender, about 7 to 9 minutes.  Add the chili powder.  Stir and cook it for 1 minute more.

Add the washed rice and stir it around in there for a minute; it makes the rice happy.  Then, add the rest of the ingredients except the olives.  Stir it well, turn up the heat, and get it boiling. Once it’s boiling, cover it and reduce the heat.  Simmer it like this for 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Transfer it to a serving bowl and top with the sliced olives, like this:

Spanish Rice 1

Notice that I sliced martini olives for this.  It was a school night, or those olives would have (should have) been in a martini.  Ah, the sacrifices I make…

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013