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

I love this tapas recipe from Food and Wine a couple of years ago.  I make it regularly in the summer especially during tomato season.   I had fun cooking this with Margaux’s Mom, Kathleen, this week.  We also made a Moroccan carrot and mint salad from Smitten Kitchen and a green salad.   (It was delicious and we agreed that we would put more mint than called for in this recipe.)

The tuna is on the right and you’ll notice a glass of French Rose wine, which is the perfect pairing for this meal.

1 red bell pepper, roasted OR

1-2 portions from a jar of Roasted Red Peppers

3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 medium white onion, diced

 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 8-oz can or 2 5-oz cans tuna packed in olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 Cut the pepper into ½ -inch pieces.  Toast the pine nuts in a skillet until golden brown and fragrant, being careful not to burn. Set aside.  Sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the peppers and tomatoes and cook about 3 more minutes until the tomato is softened.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

 After the vegetable mixture is cooled to room temperature, add the tuna and stir until mixed.  Add the pine nuts and toss until combined.  Serve with baguette.