I had a thought.
It was after I coated my halved baby gem lettuces in oil and then slipped them into the oven to be slathered in black rice and a coconut yogurt. Pulling up from the oven with a smile on my face, I had a thought.
‘When did I become a food wanker?’ I thought.
Why am I baking lettuce? Why am I toasting coconut chips to sprinkle over black rice? I am not a health food person. How did I get here?
I got here because it’s delicious and I wasn’t you to get here with me so we can dance in our foodie wankeryness together.
I mean it’s BAKED lettuce… why is this even a thing? It’s a thing because it really does taste good and enhances the flavour and gives it such an interesting texture. It feels as though it rounds out the lettuce into being a full meal, whereas sometimes eating cold, limp lettuce leaves you wanting more.
I saw Nigella Lawson (queen) bake a Romaine lettuce in her Riff On A Caesar Salad and I was absolutely charmed by the idea. True, her salad was a radical departure from the Caesar we know and love but THIS IS COOKING. Knowing the basics and getting creative on top. I applaud her pluck and often follow suit.
So while this is absolutely not a Mikey Riff On A Bit Of Nigella’s Riff, it is definitely taking the baked half lettuce concept and freestyling on top of it.
I got snakecharmed into buying black rice when I was in a deli in Florence. When I say snakecharmed, nobody influenced me with a medallion, flute and cobra. I bought it of my own accord because black rice just seemed like a gorgeous addition to my pantry and I am looking to blame my retail decisions on anyone but me.
However, you could just be normal and use normal rice.
Drop half a cup of black rice into a sieve and run the cold tap over it to get rid of any starch. Drop the rice into a pan with a tight fitting lid.
Cover the rice with a cup of water and put on the heat. Bring the water to an aggressive boil then turn the heat down immediately to the lowest setting and cover with the lid.
Leave this on the heat for 45 minutes.
In this time, preheat your oven to 220c.
Also during this time, toast a big handful of coconut flakes in a dry pan until they are golden brown. Don’t burn them, and put them to one side.
Aaaaalso during this time (you have 45 minutes, don’t worry) mix together a few spoonfuls of coconut yogurt, sea salt and black pepper, olive oil, lime juice and zest and some grated ginger. Leave to one side.
After the rice’s 45 minutes up, take it off the heat. Now take off the lid and place a tea towel over the pan and put the lid back on. Leave it sit for about 30 minutes. So the tea towel basically stops steam rising from the rice, hitting the cold lid, turning to water and dripping back down into your rice. The tea towel absorbs the steam which means you rice can essentially get rid of any unwanted excess moisture.
Halve two baby gem lettuces, cover them in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in the hot oven for the rice’s resting time.
After this time the gems will be charred and golden. Place them on to plates, cover with the black rice, toasted coconut flakes, the Lime Coconut yogurt and finish off with a grating of lime zest.
Serve smugly in your wankeryness.