A West African vermicelli and rice recipe stirs up Rice-A-Roni recollections

Vermicelli Rice With Spinach and Cashews

Lively time:15 min

Complete time:35 min

Servings:4 to six

Lively time:15 min

Complete time:35 min

Servings:4 to six


It’s infinitely stunning to me the connections you may make by way of meals.

I grew up as a dedicated omnivore in rural Central Florida within the Eighties, and I wouldn’t have essentially anticipated to be hit with a visceral style reminiscence as I used to be flipping by way of “Vegan Africa” by Marie Kacouchia. However I made a tough cease after I noticed her recipe for Vermicelli Rice With Spinach and Cashews. Initially, it was as a result of carb-based dishes all the time earn my undivided consideration. This one saved it.

Kacouchia talks about how the dish was a favourite of hers rising up in Ivory Coast in West Africa and says she added spinach to the rice-vermicelli combine when she began making it for herself.

I’m going to warn you, the connection could appear tenuous, however right here is the place her story instantly took me:

After I was in highschool, my mother began working outdoors the house. Because the oldest of three youngsters, I used to be tasked with cooking dinner for my siblings just a few nights every week. At the very least as soon as every week, that meant I made what grew to become my specialty: hen with barbecue-flavored Shake ’n Bake with sides of canned spinach (doused in vinegar) and a field of Rice-A-Roni.

If you happen to’re not aware of Rice-A-Roni — nicely, I’m fairly stunned as a result of I thought-about it one of many main meals teams till I used to be about 20, however right here’s a primer: It’s rice with damaged vermicelli in it. You saute them for a pair minutes till the pasta browns, then add a seasoning packet and water to cook dinner it. Fairly easy.

The nights I made that meal, I all the time thought the hen was fantastic, however I cherished the rice, and I used to combine the spinach into it on my plate. I knew nearly nothing about cooking or the cuisines of assorted cultures, however I all the time appreciated how the feel of the pasta was somewhat completely different than that of the rice, after which how the spinach added a unique dimension to the pairing.

I can’t keep in mind the final time I purchased a can of spinach, a lot much less a field of Rice-A-Roni, however studying this recipe put the style of that mixture in my mind in a method that left just one possibility: I needed to make it.

You may guess the place that is heading. It was terrific. Kacouchia, who writes that the dish she loved as a toddler originated in Lebanon earlier than being adopted by way of West Africa, doesn’t name for browning the vermicelli, so I tamped down my impulse to do this. Curry powder and ginger add persona to the broth, and wilting the contemporary spinach into the rice codifies the non-public desire I developed many years in the past.

The cashews fill the protein position from the hen in a method that makes loads of sense for the way in which I prefer to cook dinner currently. I haven’t executed it but, however I’ve even thought-about embellishing the roasted nuts with a dry barbecue seasoning, and possibly hitting the ultimate dish with a touch of vinegar, barely bending Kacouchia’s reminiscence simply sufficient to satisfy my very own.

Perhaps I’ll try this someday when my brother and sister come over for dinner.

Joe Yonan will return in Could.

Vermicelli Rice With Spinach and Cashews

NOTE: If utilizing common spinach, roughly chop it.

Storage: Refrigerate for as much as 4 days.

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  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 1 1/4 cups white rice, ideally basmati or jasmine, rinsed till the water runs clear and drained
  • 4 ounces vermicelli or angel hair pasta, damaged into 1-inch items (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated contemporary ginger
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fantastic salt, or extra as wanted
  • 3 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth, divided (may additionally use do-it-yourself)
  • 1 pound child spinach (see NOTE)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped contemporary flat-leaf parsley

In a big, dry skillet over medium-high warmth, toast the cashews till they grow to be darkish brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Hold the pan transferring, as they will burn rapidly. Switch the cashews to a bowl.

Return the skillet to the stovetop and scale back the warmth to medium. Add the oil, adopted by the scallions and garlic, and cook dinner, stirring, till softened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice, vermicelli, curry powder, ginger, sugar and salt, and stir to mix. Add 2½ cups of the broth and enhance the warmth to excessive to carry to a boil. Cowl the skillet, scale back the warmth to medium-low, and cook dinner till the broth is absorbed and the rice is generally cooked by way of, about 10 minutes.

Add the spinach, a handful at a time, and stir it into the rice till it begins to wilt. Hold including handfuls of spinach till it’s all integrated, then add the parsley and the remaining 1/2 cup of the broth. Cowl and cook dinner till the spinach is wilted and the rice is totally cooked, one other 3 minutes.

Serve sizzling, with cashews sprinkled on prime of every portion.

Per serving (1⅓ cups), based mostly on 6

Energy: 379; Complete Fats: 14 g; Saturated Fats: 2 g; Ldl cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 347 mg; Carbohydrates: 59 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 12 g

This evaluation is an estimate based mostly on accessible components and this preparation. It mustn’t substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s recommendation.

Tailored from “Vegan Africa” by Marie Kachouchia (The Experiment, 2022).

Examined by Jim Webster; electronic mail inquiries to [email protected].

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