Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spinach and Chickpeas with Lemony Rice Pilaf

What can I say, rice always seems to make its way into my 'fast and easy' meal choices during the week. Needless to say, we eat a lot of rice in our house, and my version of rice pilaf has a bit of delightful toasted orzo added to it, transforming it into what my husband likes to call 'rice a roni, but better.' 

This one is especially quick since a lot of the ingredients are easy to keep on hand for whenever the mood strikes you to whip something like this up. It's definitely filling enough for a meal for 3 and elegant (and easy) enough as a side with a larger meal for special guests. I put mushrooms in just about everything, but feel free to tweak it by adding or subbing in some of your favorite veg. 

for the lemony rice pilaf            

1 cup of your favorite long grain rice
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
peel and juice of medium lemon
2 tsp sea salt
3 cups low sodium chicken broth

for the spinach and chickpeas

1 lb bag of frozen organic chopped spinach
1 14 oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
   and smashed a bit with potato masher
1 medium onion, chopped
10 oz cremini or button mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place a medium pot that has a tight fitting lid over medium heat. Add the oil, butter and onion and saute till the onion begins turning translucent, about 5 minutes. 

Add the orzo and stir constantly till the orzo has become golden brown. Add the rice and stir for another 2 minutes, then add the broth, lemon juice and peel. Bring to a boil over high and stir once, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 additional minutes. 

While the rice is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil and onion with a pinch of salt. Saute till softened, about 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook till the liquid has released, then add the frozen spinach and another pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 5 - 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chickpeas and stir well, cooking long enough for them to be heated through. 

Remove the lemon peel from the rice and fluff with a fork. Serve the spinach and chickpeas over the rice and top with the feta or parm. This dish is great served family style, particularly if it will be as a side, or in individual bowls.


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