As much as I would love you to think I spend my days folding compact butter into pastry dough, alternatively rolling and chilling until perfect pâte feuilletée emerges, this is simply not the case. I buy my puff pastry, because making it is simply too laborious to be worth it on a regular basis.
Shortcuts in the kitchen are useful and necessary, especially if you want to cook dinner on a weeknight and have it on the table at a reasonable hour. Full disclosure: I sometimes (fine, often) attempt ambitious projects on a Wednesday. In these cases, the Frenchman sneaks cheese from the refrigerator to stave off his hunger until I announce dinner at 10pm.
Canned beans and rotisserie chicken fall into the category of ‘kitchen shortcuts I rely on often.’ A well-made sausage cooks quickly, and is a meal after the addition of golden onions, roasty potatoes, and a lemon-dressed salad. Good canned tomatoes become a quick sauce, or shakshuka. While not technically a shortcut, an egg makes dinner shorter work, if you split the yolk and let it run.
Whenever we order Lebanese, I always ask for extra lebna, and then simply dollop it onto everything from that rotisserie chicken to a roast beef sandwich until it runs out. In the same way, I usually ask for an extra order of sushi rice whenever we go out for Japanese. Sushi rice is a little sweet, a little vinegared, the top every so slightly dusted with sesame seeds.
This recipe was cooked with extra sushi rice and ground pork from the fridge. I always keep onions and garlic on hand, and golden raisins in the cabinet. I think these flavors work well together; the result is a little spicy, and very tasty. Best of all–it’s done and on the table in 30 minutes.
- 4 cloves garlic, divided
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 tablespoon hot pepper paste
- sea salt, black pepper
- 5 ounces fresh spinach
- 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 heaping cup sushi rice
- crushed peanuts, as garnish
- a squeeze of lemon
1. Finely dice 3 cloves of the garlic. Slice up the onion crosswise, as thinly as possible.
2. Pour the olive oil into a wide pan, and let it heat for a minute over medium heat. Add the garlic, and then the onion. Give everything a little stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.
3. Add the golden raisins, and stir to envelope them in the garlic/onion. Keep them on the heat for a few minutes, until they begin to plump.
4. Add the ground pork. (Hopefully your pan is wide enough so that it isn’t too packed. Otherwise, you can cook in batches; you want the pork to brown, not steam.) Let the pork brown a little in parts, before you stir it around. Cook until the pork is no longer pink.
5. Add the hot pepper paste, a big pinch of salt, and a little crack of black pepper; stir to combine. You can adjust the hot pepper paste and the salt to your liking. Add the rice, and mix it until the rice and the pork are well incorporated. Then remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
6. Add the remaining garlic and olive oil to a large-ish pot over medium heat. Wait until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant, and then add the spinach, along with 1/4 cup water. Put the lid on, and let the spinach cook a few minutes, or until wilted. Add the cider vinegar, the lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Move the spinach to a sieve and let it drain.
7. Crush some peanuts to sprinkle over each bowl of rice, as a garnish.
8. Spoon the rice and the spinach into bowls. Top with crushed peanuts. Finish with a little squeeze of lemon over each bowl. Serve hot.