Pantry Pilaf, Braised Greens & Garlicky Beans

beans and greens

I love this time of year. Just got whomped last weekend with an unexpected twelve inches of snow, and today, five days later, it’s set to be 80 degrees out. If you don’t like the weather in Richmond, wait five minutes.

Spring Fever, for me, means cleaning house, acting like a lunatic, getting outside as much as possible, gardening, and cleaning out the pantry while relishing the first fresh spring produce. La.

Here are a couple of my faves from this past week.

Pantry Pilaf

I love rice, not the bland white stuff, but the chewy, nutty blends of black, brown, and red rices, take a little longer to cook but the flavor is lovely. So you can cook this with any kind you like, but you know how I feel.

1 c. rice, uncooked
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 onion, chopped (I used yellow, but I think I’ll try red next time)
1/3 c. dry sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 T. oregano (preferably fresh)
olive oil
juice of one lemon

Place your chopped sundried tomatoes (I prefer to use the dried ones, not the ones packed in oil) in a small bowl or ramekin. Add the lemon juice, pepper, oregano, and just enough oil to give it a  nice gooey mix. Stir well and set aside to soak – do this first – the longer it soaks the better. In skillet, heat a bit of oil and saute the onion just until tender. Set aside.  Cook rice with a half teaspoon of salt and two bay leaves and the requisite amount of water. One rice is fully cooked, toss in the sundried tomatoes and onion. Top with sunflower seeds if desired, and serve.

Braised Greens & Garlicky Beans

1/2 c. dried white beans (I used Rancho Gordo‘s Mayacoba – their beans are marvelous)
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and de-stemmed
lemon pepper

Soak the beans in a liberal amount of water for 4-6 hours. Closer to dinner time, cook beans until tender (this takes a while – I use this as good kitchen meditation time – prep other ingredients, read a book, listen to music, drink some wine, you know – warm things up). Once beans are fully tender, drain them and set aside. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add garlic, saute about a minute, then add the beans. Mix well (try not to smoosh the beans as much as possible) and continue to saute another couple minutes. Add spinach leaves (do not mix in yet) and season with salt, lemon pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Cover the skillet and allow the spinach to wilt. Just before the spinach is fully wilted, remove the lid and toss to mix the greens and beans together. Remove from heat – do not overcook – that beautiful spinach green with the white beans, like the last winter snow melting away. You know, if winter snow was bean shaped and tasted like garlic *grin*. Enjoy!

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