Rewind to Christmas 2013. I received Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook entitled Jerusalem from my dear family friends who know me so well. What an awesome gift—I loved it. Still do. And so did the Man. It was his first time with my family for the holidays, but he didn't hesitate and eagerly threw open the pages of Jerusalem to cook up something spectacular. It was our second joint cooking endeavor. The first had been throwing a crab and cocktail feast for my closest friends, as the Man wisely decided that the way to get my friends to like him was to get them all tipsy on holiday cocktails. Smart man. Clearly we were off to a good start.
Fast forward one year to Christmas 2014. I had since moved to both Ketchum and Lakeville, and the Man and I were still enjoying many a home-cooked, Jerusalem inspired dish. I had even taken pictures of my favorite recipes with my phone so that I could continue cooking them in Ketchum and not have to lug the book back and forth across the country every few weeks. The Man and I were in Ketchum at the time, which is where my sweet mother mailed my Christmas gift. I tore off the paper to reveal Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook entitled Plenty More, and was obviously thrilled. My first cookbook in Ketchum! We don't have a lot of room in our cozy studio, but there is certainly space for one very helpful cookbook. I tore through the pages, noted all of the recipes I wanted to try on pieces of paper, and stuck them in the front of the book. My Ottolenghi collection was growing.
Three months went by, and we were back in Ketchum around the time of my birthday. My lovely cousin sent me an exquisite box to celebrate, that was filled with food goodies galore. Plus one thing that wasn't directly edible—Ottolenghi's cookbook Plenty! They seriously couldn't have coordinated better if it had been planned. I got Ottolenghi's third cookbook first, his fourth cookbook second, and his second cookbook third. With no overlap! How did they know which one to gift?! Amazing! There was certainly space for one more very helpful cookbook in Ketchum.
Ottolenghi is incredibly creative. Two of the three books I own are entirely vegetarian, yet appeal to even the most devout meat eaters. Needless to say, I love his recipes. Plus they're easy to edit if you don't have access to all of of the ingredients or are feeling lazy, like I was a little while back. Actually let's not call it lazy, let's call it practical. Turn to page 42 of Plenty More and you will find a lovely recipe for Rice Salad with Nuts and Sour Cherries. It calls for individually cooked pots of wild rice, basmati rice and quinoa. This would be easy to accomplish if I had been in Connecticut with multiple burners, but the limitations of my Ketchum kitchen posed a bit of a challenge. I would have had to cook one rice, then the next, then the quinoa, one after the other on the same burner. And that was just far too much of a process for a weeknight dinner.
So I made some changes. I used only jasmine rice because I had it in the pantry (one pantry drawer = one variety of rice at a time). I also thought that all pine nuts sounded more appealing than half pine nuts and half almonds, so I adjusted accordingly. I didn't have any sunflower oil (see above: small pantry) so I used olive. And I upped the amount of herbs because, well, I love herbs. And there weren't any sour cherries at the market so I used dried cranberries. We also ate it hot instead of cold... Here's my version, though I'm sure Yotam Ottolenghi's is wonderful as well. Wink wink.
JASMINE RICE AND ARUGULA SALAD WITH DRIED CRANBERRIES
- 2 cups white Jasmine rice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- the zest of 2 lemons
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 ounces arugula
- 1 cup basil leaves, sliced into a chiffonade (if you need instructions see my rant on chiffonade)
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup tarragon leaves, chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Cook your rice according to package directions. Set aside.
Meanwhile, pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, a large pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Sauté, stirring often, until some of the onions are crisp, and the rest soft and caramelized. Set aside.
Combine the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic in a small bowl. Season with a couple pinches of sea salt and black pepper, and whisk with a fork to combine.
Add the arugula, basil, parsley and tarragon to a large bowl. Mix in the cooked rice and onions. Pour your dressing over the top along with the cranberries and pine nuts, and toss to combine. Serve warm, or make ahead and serve at room temperature.