Aunt Suzy says . . . .

This is a fast, easy and delicious meal-in-a-bowl that I learned in my early 20’s.  I lived in New York City at the time and was taught this dish by a friend whose husband was originally from Spain.  My friend, who called this Pisto, learned it from her mother-in-law.  You might note I’m not calling it this, which is because I’ve understood since that Pisto usually refers to the Spanish version of ratatouille.  Although, I just looked up Pisto to find  in the Spanish dictionary that it cites a secondary definition as “hodgepodge”, which could be used to describe this dish.  Whatever it’s called, I’ve been making and loving this all my adult life.  I had not made it recently, but was reminded about it by my brother John, who cooked it last week.  It’s a dish that once I’ve got it in front of me, I can’t get enough of.  I hope you enjoy the unusual blending of flavors in this hodgepodge of rice, artichokes, roasted red peppers and a healthy dose of garlic – all drenched in lemon.   And as Randy said − “great mouth appeal”.  Serve with a salad with lemon-olive oil dressing and a nice lemony Sauvignon Blanc or Albarino.

This recipe serves 6 and can be cut in half

2 cups white or brown rice

3 1/2 cups water or chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 15-ounce cans artichoke hearts (NOT marinated), 10-11 medium

1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, about 2 large

4 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 tablespoons butter

1 8-ounce ham slice, diced

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 lemons, either Meyer or Eureka

Place the rice and liquid in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till done.  (White rice about 20 minutes, brown rice about 40 minutes)

Meanwhile, cut the artichoke hearts in quarters.  Cut the roasted peppers in 1 x 1/2-inch strips.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  When just starting to bubble, add the garlic and stir for a minute.  Add the artichokes and roasted red pepper.  Turn heat down to medium low and simmer until the rice is done.

Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the olive oil till shimmering.  Add the ham pieces and saute on medium high heat for 5 or so minutes until it starts to brown.  Add the ham to the artichoke mixture and stir to blend.

When the rice is done, place in a large bowl, add the artichoke-ham mixture and stir to thoroughly blend all together.  Serve with lemon wedges.  People can squeeze juice from 1-2 wedges over their individual servings.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:  I almost always make this with brown rice, but white is good and quicker if pressed for time. I almost always use chicken stock or part stock/part water for a richer taste.  Look for smoked ham with the least amount of sugar and definitely not one where maple syrup has been used in the curing.  I prefer Meyer lemons, but regular Eureka lemons are delicious as well.  I learned to make this with butter (even more than I called for!), but I think olive oil could be substituted.

Aunt Suzy says

It’s potato salad season!  I love exploring different kinds of potato salads and saw this one in a recent Coop flyer.  I usually base the type of potato salad I cook on the season and what’s available.  The nice thing about this one is that it could be made year round given the ingredients.  And what’s not to like about opening a few cans for many of the ingredients?!! Of course all amounts can be varied to personal taste!

Margaux says

I didn’t help make this one at all, but it was delicious to eat!  And it looked pretty easy to make.  I also think this would be good served warm as a side dish in the fall or winter.

The Vegetables

2 pounds small potatoes, red or gold or a combination

3-4 cloves fresh garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound artichoke hearts (not marinated), quartered (one 14-oz can drained)

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced

1/2 cup kalamata or oil cured olives, cut in half

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

The Dressing

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Wash and scrub the potatoes and then quarter or chunk them so all pieces are roughly the same size.  Place in a large mixing bowl.  Process the garlic through a press or mince, then add to the potatoes along with the olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven till crisp on the outside and tender – approximately 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to partially cool.

While the potatoes are roasting, whisk together the dressing ingredients until thoroughly combined and starting to emulsify.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the artichokes, red peppers, olives, oregano and parsley.  Add the dressing and mix well.

Add the potatoes while still warm.  Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.  Serve at room temperature.