Why do I worry endlessly about what to make for dinner when our great friends L & B (who are vegetarians) come for dinner? There are many nights that we don’t eat meat, yet when it comes to planning a meal for them, I seem to be clueless. They do eat fish and I have made that on various occasions, but this time I was determined to make a few great vegetable dishes.
I always do best when I go with my initial idea and that was Mediterranean Rice-Stuffed Escarole that I saw in Gourmet magazine in April 2008. I remember serving them with a pork roast some time last year and thought they would be good as part of a vegetarian meal. I’m happy to say that I was right. They were as delicious as I had remembered and are a perfect do-ahead dish.
Rice Stuffed Escarole
1 large head escarole
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers (use ones in jar unless you feel like peeling and roasting), finely chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Quarter escarole lengthwise, leaving base attached, and rinse well. Cook in large pot of boiling salted water for 6 minutes. Drain well and cool.
Bring 1 quart water to a boil with 1-1/2 teaspoons salt in a medium saucepan. Add rice and parboil, uncovered, 10 minutes. rice will not be tender. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain rice.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in large skillet, add garlic and cook stirring until it begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add peppers, raisins, capers, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until raisins begin to plump. remove from heat and add rice. Cool slightly and then stir in egg and 1/4 cup cheese and pine nuts.
Cut off base from escarole quarters and discard. Gently spread the leaves of each quarter to create a 4″ wide area. With base end nearest you, add 1/4 of rice in one escarole quarter, then fold in sides and roll up rice in a bundle. Repeat with remaining escarole. Place bundles seam side down in oven-proof baking dish.
Drizzle with reserved cooking liquid and remaining tablespoon olive oil, the sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30 minutes.
Remove foil and turn on broiler, then broil until cheese is browned, about 5 minutes. Serves:4
Photo from Gourmet. We served ours before I had a chance to take the photo!