The Canny Cook: Baked rice with stringless beans and artichokes recipe

I like to think of this as a vegan paella, with artichoke hearts adding a lovely meaty texture. It is also great with grilled fish or chicken.

Eleanor maidment

I think what separates a good cook and a really good cook is knowing how to season your food well.

We tend to consider salt and black pepper the base standard for seasoning, but I’ve decided that’s rather narrow-minded.

While salt should be added throughout the cooking process and genuinely accentuates and brings out the flavour of food, pepper is a spice that adds warm and, well, peppery notes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a grind of black pepper over a bowl of soup, pasta or a roast chicken, but it doesn’t give depth in the same way as salt.

So after much thought, I’m campaigning for salt and a squeeze of lemon juice to be the new way to enhance your cooking. This doesn’t mean that everything you cook will have a citrussy tang – it’s the acidity that will really help to sharpen flavours and add a brightness to dishes. However, if you do want to bring out that citrussy note, grate in a little zest (making sure you’re using unwaxed lemons).

So that’s my number-one cooking tip – always have a lemon to hand in the fridge.

And if you find your food is lacking a little zing, add a squeeze of juice to see what a big difference it can make.

Baked rice with stringless beans and artichokes recipe

Baked rice with stringless beans and artichokes

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Rinse the rice thoroughly, then leave to soak in water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan or shallow casserole over a medium-high heat. Fry 1 diced onion for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
  3. Trim the stringless beans then slice on the diagonal and add to the pan with 1 crushed garlic clove and fry for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the paprika and the artichokes (drained of their oil) then season.
  4. Drain the rice and stir into the pan, then squeeze over the juice of 1 lemon and pour over 500ml hot vegetable stock. Bake for 30 minutes until golden on top.

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*This cost assumes you already have some basic store-cupboard ingredients. Prices taken from Aldi and correct at time of going to press.