250 g Camargue red rice or a mixture of red and wild rice
2 Tbs sunflower or vegetable oil
1 red onion, finely diced
300 g raw beetroot, peeled and diced
100 g feta
Juice of 1/2 lemon
15 g fresh oregano in oil, 1 tsp za'atar or the leaves from 4–5 sprigs lemon thyme
Put the rice in a sieve and rinse it until the water runs clear. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until softened. Add the beetroot and cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring occasionally before adding the rice, coating it in the oil and beetroot juices.
Pour 500 ml boiling water over the rice and beetroot, reduce to a gentle simmer and cook with a lid on, slightly ajar, for 40 minutes. Stir once or twice to check the rice isn’t catching on the base of the pan. Remove the lid when there are 5–10 minutes to go. The rice is ready when fully tender with just a little nutty (but not chalky) bite. It should still be fairly loose-grained; if you pushed some to one side in the pan, it would fall back rather than sit prudishly. Turn the heat off.
Crumble half the feta into the rice and stir through until it melts. Taste to check the seasoning, adding the lemon juice and salt if necessary. Transfer to a platter or wide serving bowl. Sprinkle the remaining feta over the top, then the oregano (or lemon thyme or za’atar, plus a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil). It’ll stay warm for at least 5–10 minutes, but is best made just before you eat rather than a long time in advance. It’s good cold, mind.
Credits: Recipes and images from On the Side by Ed Smith, Published by Bloomsbury, RRP $39.99.