Andalusian Pilaf - recipe and photo by Charles Larry
One of the joys of moving back to my hometown a few years ago is being here to help plan our class reunion for later this year. We've only had two previous reunions, but we've been out of high school long enough to have had a few more, and everyone is really looking forward to this one.
I don't have to say how many do I? You can just look and my picture and guess, can't you. Yeah, this will be our . . . uh . . . fifteenth . . . twentieth . . . something like that.
Anyway, a number of us who live in town (and are still able to get around on our own) have been meeting to make plans and, most important of all, locate our classmates.
I didn't help organize our past reunions, but I suspect having the Internet, Email, Google, Facebook and social media sites have made it easier to find people than in the past.
Uh oh! That could have been a clue!
It seems as soon as we do connect with each new found person there is an instant link with an ever-growing group of classmates on Facebook, and the emails begin flying between people who haven't seen each other in . . . well . . . several years.
That's it! No more hints!
All of this 21st century communication has also allowed classmates living far away to become more involved in the planning. My friend, Stan, is working with me on save-the-dates and invitations -- all by email. He and his wife live in KY and own a stationery and gift shop. I have nice handwriting and care about the proper placement of stamps on envelopes.
Another friend, Charles, has done some amazing artwork for a couple of special items to commemorate our class and he sent them to us via computer. Charles also noticed that I have a blog, so checked it out and got in touch with me.
And guess what? Charles cooks too! And I'm not sure which is proper . . . he is vegan . . . or, he is a vegan . . . but he is. I told him I'd love to see recipes of anything he makes, since I'm always looking for new food finds for Cora Cooks.
And I mentioned, too, that all my friends know to "shoot it before you eat it."
Well, a couple of days later, this gorgeous picture and delicious recipe from Charles showed up in my email.
Uh, Charles, did I forget to mention that it's not good form to show up the blog host with pictures that far exceed the beauty and quality of her own?
Notice that rule does not apply to recipes though. Good food, better food and best food are always appreciated, no matter who makes it! I'll eat almost anything with cumin and/or olives, just so you know.
I have to admit that I've not made this myself -- yet -- or even tasted it, except with my eyes. Can you believe I don't have a bit of tofu in the house at the moment? Yeah, I know.
I also can read a recipe and know the flavors in my mind, and I can see that beautiful bowl of pilaf and just know that this is something special.
First Kristin wants vegetarian. And now Charles sends me vegan. OK, I asked for the vegan recipes, but is there some cosmic coincidence thing going on here?
1 c. Rice
Pinch Saffron (or 2 tsp. Paprika + 1/2 tsp. Turmeric)
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 tsp. ground Cumin
1 large Onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb. extra firm Tofu (drain and wrap in kitchen towel for at least an hour, up to 12 hours, in refrigerator)
1/4 c. Red Wine
1 tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 15 oz. can diced Tomatoes (or fresh if in season)
1/2 lb. baby Carrots (or carrots peeled and cut to bite-size)
1 lb. Green Beans (or asparagus if in season)
6 oz. baby Spinach
1/2 c. small stuffed Green Olives
1/4 c. chopped Flat-leafed Parsley
1 tsp. dried Thyme
1 Serrano Chili, finely chopped
Cook rice with saffron and salt.
Meanwhile, tear tofu into bite-sized pieces. Heat olive oil. Add cumin and sauté onion and tofu. After 5 minutes or so, add garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Add wine, soy sauce, and liquid from tomatoes. Saute until liquid is absorbed and tofu is browning.
While tofu is sautéing, cook green beans and carrots (carrots are best coated with olive oil and roasted in 400F oven.)
Add spinach to tofu and cook until wilted. Mix all together in a large bowl: the tofu mixture, rice, carrots, green beans, olives, parsley, thyme, chili, and salt to taste.