Cooking rice perfectly is one of those things that shouldn’t be complicated but can be surprisingly difficult, for some, to get right. Baking it in the oven, on the other hand, as I do here, is a completely foolproof method (and one that worked, incidentally, when feeding 700 people over two sittings at the Wilderness festival in 2017!). This is such a great side to all sorts of dishes: roasted root vegetables, slow-cooked lamb or pork. To get ahead, the salsa can be made a few hours in advance and kept in the fridge.
400g basmati rice
50g unsalted butter, melted
800ml boiling water
50g mint (40g left on the sprigs; leaves shredded for the remaining 10g, to use in the salsa)
150g feta, crumbled into 1cm-2cm pieces
salt and black pepper
FOR THE SALSA
40g pitted green olives, thinly sliced
seeds from 1 small pomegranate (90g prepped seeds)
50g walnut halves, lightly roasted and roughly broken
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1. Preheat the oven to 230C fan (250C/gas 10), or as high as it will go.
2. Place the rice in a high-sided ovenproof dish, measuring 20cm x 30cm. Season with ¾ teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, then pour over the butter and boiling water. Top with the sprigs of mint and cover the dish tightly with tinfoil so that the rice is well sealed. Bake for 25 minutes, until the rice is light and fluffy and all the liquid has been absorbed.
3. Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the salsa, minus the 10g shredded mint, in a medium bowl with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Mix well and set aside.
4. Take the rice out of the oven, and remove and discard the foil. Pull the leaves off the mint sprigs – the stalks can be discarded – then place these back on the rice and sprinkle with the feta. Just before serving, stir the shredded mint into the salsa and spoon evenly over the rice. Serve hot.
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