Last week was not my week in the kitchen, guys.
I had earnest, ambitious designs on a beet curry that would be pink and pretty and spicy and would finally put the word “end” on my quarrel with the red/purple root.
But as the week went on and as failures occurred — unnaturally purple, watery, and nothing like what I had in mind — my enjoyment of the project plummeted.
But because I’m one of those persons that no-matter-what follows through and finishes what he started, I did, and lo, it was acceptable, you know?
It’s just that I’m not a beet person and I can tolerate it only when juiced and I forgot?
None of this matter because the pot fell, spilling the curry. As I crouched on the kitchen floor scooping the curry into the garbage, I started questioning my life choices.
Why forcing myself to like something just because a bunch of other people like it?
I should know better…
I took a break from the kitchen after that.
Sometimes, you just need some space to restore the magic, right?
So I took a Bikram yoga class, to sweat all my (culinary) miseries away but as I was stepping out of the yoga studio an email appeared on my phone from NYTCooking sharing a recipe from David Tanis — formerly chef with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse and of Café Escalera in Santa Fe, New Mexico, now a full-time columnist for the NYTimes — and all I wanted to do was run home and make it, immediately.
I actually got to making the rice a few days later, because life is like that, but please don’t wait so long because this is crazy delicious, filling and wholesome.
You guys know that I'm often hesitant to label a recipe as the best.
So far I’ve only used it five times: eggplant patties, baked kale, quinoa patties, protein brownies, and green juice.
And I still stand behind every single one of those recipes.
They’re some pretty amazing concoctions that I still whip up to this day (the quinoa patties and baked kale are on rotation in my kitchen at least twice a month).
Buuuuuut, this Baked Spinach Rice is hands down one of the best baked rice I’ve made yet and I totally feel that there is truth to my claim.
The rice is heavy on the vegetable, golden and crisp at the edges, tender and almost creamy in the center and after making it, you will fall in love with cooking. I promise.
So easy to make and so delicious this is going to be a regular and welcome addition to my repertoire.
The Best Baked Spinach Rice Print this recipe!
Adapted from NYTCooking
1 ½ cups long-grain white rice (I used Jasmine)
1 teaspoon fine grain salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter (or coconut oil), plus more to butter the baking dish
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
½ cup slivered almonds
1 cup ricotta
1 cup grated Swiss cheese (or Gruyere)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon chopped sage
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spinach and cook for 30 seconds, until wilted. Fish it out with a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander, and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
With your hands squeeze the spinach to extract as much liquid as possible.
Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Set aside.
Add rice to pot and cook for 10 minutes, keeping it slightly underdone. Drain and let cool.
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and place a rack in the middle.
Butter a 2-quart baking dish and dust with 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and toast for about 2 minutes, until golden. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and set aside.
Transfer rice to a large bowl, add almonds, remaining Parmesan, ricotta, half of the Swiss cheese, nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme, and sage. Season with salt and pepper and give a good stir.
Add spinach and gently toss to mix everything.
Sprinkle with remaining half of the Swiss cheese, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, turn the oven to broil, and set the dish under the broiler until the topping is golden and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes (depending how powerful your broiler is.)
One serving yields 298 calories, 19 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbs, and 16 grams of protein.