Monday, August 1, 2011


Zen Bake before it goes in the oven

 I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful woman called Dalia this year, who has since returned to the US - via Jordan where she is now visiting her family.

Dalia gave me a fantastic cook book  - 3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery by Seppo Ed Farrey and Myochi Nancy O'Hara.  I've only dipped into it so far but it's clear they know what they're doing. Expect to see a fair bit of in these pages.

I adapted this delicious and very healthy recipe from the book, and cooked it for Dalia before she departed. I promised to post it so she can make it for her parents in Jordan, although I'm sure she's enjoying plenty of tasty Middle Eastern delights.

While this dish requires a few hours in the oven, it doesn't demand too much from the cook. It's extremely satisfying and nourishing and perfect for a cold winter weekend when you're pottering around at home in the afternooon.

The authors compare this to American Southern fare, particularly jambalaya. Miles assures me it's nothing like jambalaya, but I like that word so I wanted to use it. They used collard greens but I went for English spinach.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
1/2 tspn sea salt
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 bag English spinach or silverbeet
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 cup black-eyed beans
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup tamari
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

If you have time, soak beans in 3 cups water for few hours, otherwise don't worry - they will still cook fine. Heat oven to moderate temperature. Place oil in large frying pan over medium heat and saute onion for few minutes. Add garlic and saute few more minutes. Stir in sweet potato and saute while you wash and pick the spinach. Place leaves in pan just long enough to wilt a little (they will cook plenty in the oven).

Place rice and beans in a large rectangle baking dish. Add the sweet potato etc and mix well. Stir cayenne, vinegar, tamari together in a small bowl and add one cup of the boiling water. Pour over beans etc and mix well but gently. Lastly pour rest of boiling water over, cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Rice and beans should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed. Serve hot. A little yoghurt on the side may be necessary for those sensitive to the pepper. 

It tastes soooo much better than it looks

Dalia and Luke join us for a 'farewell' dinner (we know they will be back)