Thursday, March 29, 2007

Emperor's Forbidden Rice with Chestnuts, Lombard Pepper, and Garlic; Squashes and Sweet Potato

We're enjoying great weather today and for the past few days with temperatures even getting into the 80s (it looks like we broke a 60+ year record for high temperature today), so ate on our deck. I introduced my wife to Emperor's Forbidden Rice (actually deep purple and said to have been grown in China exclusively for the Emperor). It is easy to prepare this tasty short-grained rice by combining one part raw rice to one and three quarters parts water (or broth), bringing to a boil, then covering and simmering for about 30 minutes, removing from the heat, and letting it sit for a few more minutes.

I prepared the rice in this manner, using a vegan bouillon cube in the water. When the rice was almost done, I mixed in some chestnuts, as well as diced Lombard peppers with the garlic they were marinating with (I bought this from a nearby store). It came out great!

I also roasted baby butternut and acorn squashes, as well as sweet potato. I served a salad of chopped tomatoes mixed with olives.

I'm overdue for using my slow cooker for some awesome sauces; we're having a good friend over for a belated birthday dinner tomorrow, so thought this would be a good opportunity to show off what the slow cooker can do. I'm thinking of using eggplant in a tomato-based sauce (not caponata, which I'd like to make sometime, as well), and serving it over seashell-shaped "conchiglie" organic pasta from the Montebello Monastery in Marche, Italy.

I decided to make a big batch of sauce, filling most of my 1.5 quart slow cooker, so that I can use the leftover sauce maybe to make something like pizza later in the week. I was going to finely dice 10 medium roma tomatoes, after seeding them (see details from when I first made sauce with the slow cooker in January) but, on my wife's suggestion, used an electric mini-chopper. It had a tendency to puree the tomatoes, but I made sure that chunks remained.

I added the tomatoes to the slow cooker, along with 3T olive oil, 1 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t coarsely ground peppercorns, 3t chopped basil, and 1t chopped oregano [t=teaspoon, T=tablespoon]. Because our friend loves rosemary (when he visits, he often caresses the large rosemary bush, imbibing its fragrance, that I planted near my front door), I also added a teaspoon of chopped rosemary.

I finely diced six small cloves (not entire bulbs!) of garlic and 3 small shallots in the mini-chopper. I used a knife to dice a peeled medium neon (thin) eggplant into 3/8" pieces and cut half of a green bell pepper into 1/4" cubes. I sauteed the garlic, shallots, eggplant, and pepper for about 4 minutes till the eggplant was just cooked and turning clear, then transferred these to the slow cooker.

As I did when I made sauce in January, I will plan on letting the sauce simmer for about 10 hours; I tried making a sauce a week later and found that having 10 or 11 hours to simmer is about right. Our friend is coming over at 6p, and my wife will turn the slow cooker on at around 8a.


At Thu Mar 29, 09:24:00 PM EDT, Blogger TNL said...

Emperor's Forbidden rice is a new item, what's the taste like? The color purple must be a bit overwhelming at first?
Roasting Squash is a great idea,it really brings out their natural sweetness.
The recipe for the pasta sauce is great, do you add the basil towards the end?

At Thu Mar 29, 10:17:00 PM EDT, Blogger bee said...

wonderful vegan food. you have been linked:

At Thu Mar 29, 11:14:00 PM EDT, Blogger Dilip said...

Hi, trupti. Thanks for your email. And thanks for your reference to . Purple is my favorite color; I had my house painted purple some years ago! The rice is actually close to black in color, and it really looks striking as I hope that you can tell in the picture. I love squash! I add basil at the beginning - when using a slow cooker, try not to open the cooker at all till it is done. Thanks for your comment.


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