We had a day out browsing nurseries and bookstores on the weekend. It was a while since we had been on Brunswick St and I was a little dismayed to find Charmaine’s ice cream shop closed, Bakers Café is no more and the comfy chairs have disappeared from the Brunswick Street bookstore. But it wasn’t all bad – we lunched in a peaceful sun dappled courtyard under a canopy of vines (lovely service and food but I can’t remember the name of the place).
In my browsing through bookstores I came across a recipe for a rice slice in a gluten free cookbook. I still had sun dried tomatoes and olives in the fridge and the idea of a slice with a Mediterranean theme appealed. Seemed just right for a sunny day. At home I checked other cookbooks, feeling baked rice slice would be quite common but could only find one recipe in the Women’s Weekly Almost Vegetarian Cookbook. But both recipes had eggs and milk which I wasn’t keen on. I know they hold everything together but figured there must be other ways.
I used a lot of the vegetables from the fridge – carrot, corn, spinach, mushroom and herbs. Rather than eggs and milk for binding the slice together, I added tahini and Heinz tomato soup. Tinned tomato soup is such wonderful comfort food (as well as it being a favoured Sunday night meal, my mum used to bake meatloaf with tomato soup and I once slowly baked rice in soup while looking after an elderly woman in England). I also added quite a few other seasonings. I purposefully left out cheese to keep it vegan but then needed cheese on top although you might find that substituting breadcrumbs and oil would do the trick if you do want a vegan recipe.
It was a very tasty slice, despite the cheese not crisping as much as I had hoped – the crisp seeds made this less necessary anyway. I particularly enjoyed the herby tomato flavour. There were enough vegetables in the slice that I didn’t feel obliged to serve it with a salad or vegetables. We ate it for leftovers the next night and it was even better – I think the flavours might have deepened overnight.
E had to put tomato sauce on it. I was tempted but in the end I thought there were enough flavours not to need it. As E loves tomato sauce on anything, I was delighted to find the following quote from Alexander McCall Smith in the Age (Good Weekend) a couple of weeks ago - Tomato sauce or ketchup “were to be eaten in moderation, we were told. The reason for this was my mother’s belief that consumption of this sauce by children led to what she called juvenile delinquency.” Consider yourself warned!
Mediterranean Rice Slice
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 generous cup baby spinach leaves
½ bunch basil
2 handfuls of parsley
5 medium carrots, grated
1⅔ cups of chopped mushrooms
1 cup corn kernels
¼ red onion, finely chopped
220ml tomato soup or tomato puree
¼ cup tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp flaxmeal (linseed meal)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Drops Tabasco sauce to taste
*1 cup grated cheese
1 tomato, sliced thinly
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
* For a vegan slice, omit cheese and use breadcrumbs and a drizzle of oil (but it will no longer be gluten free)
Cook basmati rice in boiling water (approximately 12 minutes). When cooked, drain rice. Finely chop spinach leaves, basil and parsley in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon mixture into 22cm square baking tin.
Cover mixture with tomato slices. Sprinkle with grated cheese and seeds. Bake in moderate hot oven approximately 30- 45 mins or til cheese is golden. (my cheese didn’t really go as golden as I had hoped but 45 minutes seemed plenty of time in the oven). It is lovely reheated for 20 minutes in a moderate oven the next day!
On the stereo:
ibm 1401, a user’s manual: Jóhann Jóhannsson