Buonasera lovely readers!
Willkommen all to the new home of Recipes for Serena! This El Bloggo has been undergoing a bit of a face lift and address change over the past couple of months, and I really hope you enjoy the results. It’s still el rustico and will, of course, continue to be a source of character exploitation (based on real people, cherry-picked from the wayward eccentrics I’ve collected over the years, including the much-loved Phil), travel musings, photography and of course, recipes. The only real difference is that I’ve ditched the bananas and added some cartoons, and there’s that new address to bookmark should you wish to follow along …
I begin this new blogging chapter with the news that I am once again moving house. The Italian Shoebox is being vacated (thank the heavens!) for a roomier pad in the west. In a week’s time I will officially be a Westie. No more Lycra-clad-no-sweat-evident-latte-sippers to fight through on my way to work, no more Mercedes Benzes to almost run me over, no more overpriced weak coffee from the ‘French’ establishment on the corner of our street … and best of all, no more RV campervan washing machine!! My 6 kg beauty is being hauled out of storage and I will once again be able to wash a whole sheet set, with a few socks thrown in, in one load. Never again will I have to expertly run a hose into the toilet without it touching the toilet bowl water. Never again will we have to risk the floods of doom. Hallelujah … praise be! In addition, I will no longer be surrounded by the ridiculous amount of stuff owned by The Italian that is really starting to make me loopy. Surfboards, skateboards, bikes, unicycles, arcade video game apparati, computers and Gundams shall all be housed in a loft that conveniently hovers above the rest of the house, completely out of my sight. No more tripping over Dog and skate shoes in the doorway, because there will be space for everything and everyone. Space, I tell you. Space!!
To commemorate this happy news and happy new home for Recipes for Serena, I present one of the very last dishes cooked in the Italian Shoebox – an one-pot (almost) wonder. One must learn to be economical in space-compromised times. (But not for much longer, pour moi!) This wet rice/pilaf number has a bit of the Middle East about it, with some oddness thrown in, that makes for a warming and soulful dish that I thought kind of worked, although it’s not the sexiest in the looks department. If you are not convinced by the vegetable combination, pumpkin or sweet potato would be a fine substitute for the cauliflower.
Extra virgin olive oil
½ head cauliflower, cut into 3 cm florets
½ eggplant, cut into small cubes
100 g string beans, cut in half lengthways and down the centre
400 g can brown lentils
1 ½ cups basmati rice, washed
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ onion sliced
4 cups water
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup slivered almonds, roasted if you have time (much yummier)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
Dukkah, to serve
Natural yoghurt or tzatziki to taste
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Placed cauliflower in a roasting tray and drizzle over 2 teaspoons of oil. Season well. Roast for about 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.
While this is happening, add the onion to a small frying pan with 1 tablespoon oil and gently fry over a low heat for 15 minutes, to caramelise.
Add 2 tablespoons to a large, heavy based pot over a medium heat and add eggplant. Add spices and stir for a couple of minutes, until the eggplant is well-coated and starting to colour. Add the rice and stir to combine with the eggplant. Pour in the water, with a little veggie stock mixed through if you wish. Bring to the boil and then cover and reduce the heat to low. After 5 minutes, add the lentils and green beans and stir, then cover again. After another 5 minutes, add the cooked cauliflower, almonds and cranberries. Check if a little more water is needed and if you’re rice is almost ready. After another couple of minutes, it should be done (12 minutes in total) and wet, but not mushy. Leave for a little longer if need be. Once the rice is cooked, top with a sprinkle of Dukkah, freshly chopped parsley and the lovely caramelised onions. Serve with a little yoghurt if you wish.
I shall return to my packing now, but thank you once again for reading and hope you enjoy the new site! xx