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I had a couple of friends over for dinner this week, Jen and Linda. Linda is a professional cook and I like to cook. Jen asked us a question I have often been asked before. “When do you decide what you are having for dinner and how do you decide what you are having?” Linda and I responded with pretty much the same answers. “Usually in the morning with inspiration coming from a particular ingredient” Linda gave an example from the dinner she had cooked the day before with firm and shiny purple eggplants as the star of the show! My inspiration for this dish came from the last of the seasons’ red and green capsicum that were just waiting to be harvested from my garden – before they drowned – we have just had 200 ml of rain in 30 hours with more on the way. (Which also gave me some idle time for doodling in my sketchbook!)

Spanish Rice

This is such a simple dish to make and you will find versions of it all over the Mediterranean – easier and quicker than paella or risotto – one of those comfort dishes that you can eat with a fork in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

RECIPE for 4 people

  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 red and one green pepper, diced
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced – not too thin
  • 12-16 green prawns (depends on the size), peeled and deveined
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups stock
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Chilli flakes to taste
  • 1 desert spoon sweet paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • Good handful of fresh parsley, chopped

METHOD

  • You need a shallow, wide pan that has a lid.
  • Put the oil and onion in the pan on a medium heat. Cook until soft.
  • Add the diced capsicum, chorizo, garlic and chilli flakes. Cook until just turning colour.
  • Add the rice and stir around until it goes translucent – a minute or two.
  • Add the prawns, paprika and stock. Cover and simmer on low heat for twenty minutes until rice is cooked. It may need a stir to stop it sticking.
  • Check to see if it needs more salt – the stock and chorizo may be salty enough.
  • Serve topped with a generous helping of chopped parsley. Wedges of lemon are optional, but nice.

What cookbook do you regularly turn to for inspiration? For me it is Elizabeth David’s Mediterranean Food – first published in 1950. I have a glorious illustrated edition that I paid the princely sum of $20 for in about 1980 – it was secondhand them and seemed like a fortune – but I treasure it. She has three versions of this dish in there – one from Spain Arroz Catalan, Italy Genoese Rice and Greece Suliman’s Pilaff – and they all look fabulous and easy. It’s where the inspiration for this dish came from. She offers a good cook’s piece of advice ………….to serve these rice dishes in the pan they were cooked in to best enjoy the golden crust that may be stuck to the bottom.

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