I came to learn about Tessa Kiros through I Heart Cooking Clubs. I have never heard of her before that. Even though I've only tried a few of her recipes, all those recipes are really good. Her pasta recipe, Daniele's Tomato Pasta, is my kids' most favourite spaghetti, the one that they often asked for, the most. I have made about a dozen times since then. They call this dish, "Fresh Pasta", simply because there's no cooking involved, other than cooking the spaghetti till al dente, and tossing the pasta with the prepared mixture (made a few hours in advance to mingle the flavours), of cherry tomatoes, olive oil, capers, garlic, fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper. My daughter has brought this spaghetti dish to school a couple of times, always with an extra container packed, to share with her friends, as they loved it too!
During the last month of cooking with Tessa, I have bought one of her books, Piri Piri Starfish, as it was on sale, and I was so happy to take it home, as her books are rather expensive. It is a beautiful book with recipes and anecdotes from her travels to Portugal. So far, I have tried only one recipe from the book and many more are bookmarked, yet never did find the time to try them out. This Tomato Rice was one of them. When I made Yotam Ottolenghi's Roasted Chicken with Chili and Basil, I was looking for some rice recipe that I could make to go with the chicken. And this Tomato Rice is just the one!
According to Tessa, this is a kind of "everywhere" dish, served alongside grilled prawns, flattened chickens or grilled fish, not usually meant to be in the leading role, but it's very good all the same. And if you like, some veggies can be added in, such as celery, zucchini and carrots, and even some herbs like rosemary. One word of advise from Tessa is to use really ripe tomatoes, otherwise use the canned ones, better than not-quite-ripe-enough tomatoes.
I have used ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, but have omitted the red capsicum as I have forgotten to buy it. Medium-grain rice is used, and I have used Calrose rice. Chopped onions are firstly sauteed in oil till golden, add the capsicum (if using), garlic, parsley and bay leaf, stir for a minute until the garlic is fragrant, then add the tomatoes, paprika, butter, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mashing the tomatoes with the spoon, leaving some visible chunks. Add the rice, stir to mix the flavours, and add 4 cups of water. I find that 4 cups is a little too much, I added in 3 cups at first and added in half a cup more during cooking when I feel that the rice needs it. Continue cooking as per the instructions in the recipe.
Just as Tessa describes, this Tomato Rice is not meant to be in the leading role, but it is good all the same. To me, it is very good! The family likes it. Perfect alongside the Roasted Chicken. Very tasty and I can see why ripe tomatoes are really important here. The caramelized onions are just so good, I can get bites of it in every spoonful. Next time I'll add on more chopped parsley. I could eat this Tomato Rice alone as a one-pot meal. Delicious. Another winner recipe from Tessa.
(adapted from "Piri piri Starfish", by Tessa Kiros)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small red pepper (capsicum), seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 small fresh bay leaf
4 very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 400 gm/14 oz tin chopped tomatoes)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
20 gm (3/4 oz) butter
400 gm (2 cups) medium-grain rice (I use calrose rice)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion until sticky and golden. Add the pepper and cook until everything is jammy and turning golden. Add the garlic, parsley and bay leaf and, when you start to smell the garlic, add the tomatoes, paprika, butter, about 2 teaspoons of coarse salt and a little pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mashing up the tomatoes a bit but still leaving a few chunks.
Add the rice and turn it through well to mix in the flavours. Add 1 litre (4 cups) (I use only 3-1/2 cups) of water, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes, checking that nothing is sticking. Turn off the heat and fluff the rice, cover and leave for 10 minutes before you serve. Fluff it through again - it should have absorbed most of the liquid and be just right, in which case serve immediately. If it's too firm, leave it covered for a while longer. Best hot, but also good at room temperature.#96/100
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