As I write this, two men are jackhammering the street below my window. Yes, I am very much back in New York City. But that doesn’t mean I have to suddenly start cooking hot dogs and eating pizza. No. I can keep eating, and begin cooking, like I’m still in Croatia. Fresh, local, light and tasty.
So with this new mantra I decided to tackle one of our favorite dishes from Split, Dalmatian Rice, for the Fabulous Favourites Festival (IMBB? 26 + WBW 21). The Caveman, an awesome Canadian wine blogger, and I decided to trade specialties for this event. I gave him a recipe, he gave me a wine. His suggested vin was Cuvée Marie, which of course, I could not find. Doh! So I settled on what I believe is a similar wine, the 2003 Chateau Jolys Jurançon Sec ($13.99). Sorry Caveman… I blame jetlag!
I ordered the rice in a restaurant on our first night in Split. I assumed it would be something like risotto. The boy assumed it would be black and white. I was right, he was wrong.
There are two things that makes this dish special: 1. Like most of the rižot we had in Croatia, it is not creamy and 2. most of it’s flavor comes from a healthy, healthy dose of raw garlic added at the end (and probably from the national “secret” ingredient as well). But neither man nor woman can live on rice alone, so I threw together a simple warm salad, inspired by our hostess on Hvar, of tomatoes, zucchini and ramps baked in the oven with some sole filets.
The wine was a revelation and ended up being a perfect pairing to this light, healthy, tasty meal. It’s bright acidity cut through the unctuous olive oil I used as a final flavor element to the dish, while it’s slight fruity sweetness acted as a lovely foil to the bright, slightly spicy raw garlic.
Head below the jump for these very easy, very tasty recipes.
Warm Salad Hvaranin
prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 pint Grape Tomatoes, washed
- 2 Zucchini, chopped
- 1 bunch Ramps (or green garlic), cleaned and chopped
- Olive Oil
- Lemon Juice
- 2 Fish Fillets (your choice)
Heat your oven to 300°F
Heat a very, very healthy glug of olive oil in an ovenproof dutch oven over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and allow to cook while chopping the zucchini (if they’re not very dry they might spit a little oil at you, so be careful).
Add the zucchini, stir and cook for a few minute, add the ramps (tops and bottoms). Season with salt and lemon juice to taste.
Wash your fish fillets, place over the vegetables. Season with salt and another very healthy glug of olive oil. Turn the heat off, put the top on and move the whole thing into the oven.
Allow to cook while preparing the rice. Pull the dish out when the rice is done. Serve the vegetables and fish alongside the rice
prep time: 5 minutes ~ cooking time: 18 minutes
Cooks Note: In the kitchens I saw on my trip everyone used, are you ready for this… easy cook rice from an Italian company called Riso Gallo. By pure chance, I just happened to have some of this sitting around that I had bought on the Arthur Avenue Adventure; Risotto 3 Grains (rice, spelt & barley). If you can find this brand of rice, buy it, it’s great and will save you from achey arms!
- 4 cups Water
- 1 cup easy cook Rice
- 2 tsps Vegeta Mediteran (or some other kind of seasoning)
- 5 cloves Garlic, very finely minced
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In a large pot over a medium flame add the water and vegeta to boil. Once boiling add the rice and stir. Allow to cook until all the water is absorbed, about 18 minutes.
Don’t treat this dish like risotto, resist the urge to stir it to death (this applies if you’re using regular risotto rice as well, you do not want the grains to give up all their starch into the water, you want the grains to remain intact and seperate).
When the rice is done, stir in the finely minced garlic and add a healthy glug of olive oil to taste.