Now this is weird. Not to seem like some flakey new age person, which i definitely am NOT, i was making rice last night to accompany some lamb, which of course made me think of greece, and I thought of you, and our discussion about plain boiled rice or pilaf or risotto and here you are asking about a rice dish.
Anyway, one of the nicest, i think, for lunch is a rice salad.
And if you can get hold of that black rice - sometimes called forbidden rice(because it was only served to the emperor of china and no one else could eat it) or venere rice (venere being venus - why it's called that here, i don't know) - you can make it even nicer. A rice salad with only black rice (it's actually black, sort of a purpley black) is wonderful but expensive, or you can mix white long grain with black (but cook separately, because otherwise the white turns greyish and they have different cooking times). You can also cook some quinoa (leave it a little crunchy), and have a mixture. Or just use plain rice. Boil it as you would pasta, then drain. Don't cook it so that the water boils down or it becomes sticky.
I drain the rice, and immediately add frozen peas, which cool it, and the heat of the rice defrosts them.
Then i take chopped carrot, onion and celery, spread it in a flat pan, with some parchment paper (or not) and sprinkle with just a pinch of brown sugar and let it roast along with some small date-shaped or cherry tomatoes halfed. Capers are good in this, and you can put some "giardiniera" salad (italian pickled carrot, peppers, onion, cucumber, etc).
I put a good amount of parsley and chives, or the green part of spring onions.
Hard boiled eggs are often added, cut in 1/4ths, and dark meat tuna, drained. It's very pleasant with sauteed shrimp instead of the tuna and is particulary pleasant with the black rice.
then season with salt, pepper, oil and vinegar to taste.
chickpeas, string beans, roast pepper strips. Italians use small coctail hot dogs which i think is disgusting, or pieces of ham or cheese, but i don't think these add anything to the salad and actually take away from the flavor and texture.
The key is to have fresh crunchy flavors (carrots, celery) and soft melding flavors (tomatoes, tuna, roast peppers), and bursting flavors (barely defrosted peas, string beans) and lots of color. Black rice and parsley is very pretty, with the red of tomatoes... makes a nice presentation
This may sound even wackier but what a about Teriyaki Spam Musubi?
Approx. 5 C cooked medium (calrose or sushi) Rice, warm is best
1 can Spam, cut into 6 pieces (or 8 for less meat)
2 (or 3) sheets of dried seaweed (Nori), cut into 3
¼ C Brown Sugar
¼ C Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Mirin
½ tsp Sesame Oil
1 Garlic clove, smashed
In a small bowl mix the sauce ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved.
In a large pan, fry the spam until crisp. Pour the sauce over the meat and allow to bubble and thicken, turning the Spam several times to coat.
Cut a sheet of plastic wrap and place on your work surface. Place a piece of Nori, shiny side down on the counter, place your musubi maker (take the Spam can & remove the end creating a form) on top of the Nori, perpendicularly, creating a T shape. Spoon in the desired amount of rice (not too much) and press down very firmly, while lifting the form off. Top with the Spam. Now, wrap the musubi with the two end of your Nori, moistening one end so that it sticks well.
I wrap the Musubi in the plastic wrap and allow to cool as well as set up better.
Best eaten warm, these are microwaveable.
These make pretty good sized, hand-held treats, but if you wanted them a little daintier use a larger piece of Nori, enough to cover it from end to end and then taking a wet knife, cut into smaller pieces.
Meat was also rationed here - and although I wasn't around during the war, the rationing lasted until nearly the mid-50s. It meant that some crappy foods had become part of the diet - I remember my boarding school used to make spam fritters in the 60s - slices of the rank stuff, floured and then dipped in batter and fried. Truly, deeply offensive to look at and even worse to eat.
Slice the spam or luncheon loaf and then stuff it with a pineapple almond rice or bread stuffing. Roll the spam around the dressing then Bake with a sauce like listed above. It is really good. Used in the NYC school lunch program in the 70 s and 80s.
Siduri, we need to meet one day. When I go to Rome I will look you up! I've never made black rice but I can surely try it. Does it take longer to cook? A rice salad or orzo salad could be good too.
I think I will probably stay away from the spam idea for now. Not knocking it or anything, I love a little wackiness here and there but would like to keep the luncheon elegant rather than wacky. Would prefer some classic flavors that would go with finger sandwiches.