On Cooking with Organic, Local Fresh Produce and Rediscovering Old World Cooking
Chef Rita Serano Lives between Her Homes in Amsterdam and the French Countryside
Q: What ingredients do you think are underused at home when we cook?
A: Grains and beans. In the last couple of years, there was a trend to eat low-carb food. People think they’ll get fat from eating carbs. Beans and grains are the staple in a lot of different food cultures. Indian food, South American food, Asian, African food, and even here in Europe in the old days, they all have a lot of grains and beans in their diet. The possibilities are endless, cheap, tasty, and (if organic) environmentally friendly. No need for hunger in this world when we all eat beans and grains.
Q: What is something new that you recommend us trying in the kitchen that many of us might not think of?
A: Be old-fashioned! Don’t try anything new, discover the old. This day and age goes by so fast, everything must be new and modern. It’s so fast that we tend to forget the good and the peace and quiet we had in the past. Currently I am into old techniques like fermentation, preserving, pickling, and slow cooking. I always chat with my French neighbors about what they eat and where they got it and how they prepared it.
Q: Any food secret you swear by?
A: There are a couple. Use seasonal, organic, and local produce that are fresh and vibrant. They are there for a reason and best for your health. Spices and herbs will lift up any dish if needed. Have a well-stocked pantry with basic grains and beans that preserve well and will make a delicious meal in no time. If you cook too much of it on one day, you can always use it the next day. Cooked rice can be turned into stir-fried rice the next day. And don’t forget to experiment and have fun!
If you have a pizza stone, this is the perfect time to use it!
Before you start making the sauce, heat your oven on the highest temperature.
Make a sauce from
1 cup of pre-soaked dried (not the oil variety) sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups of water (or a bit more to make it a real sauce consistency) and blend smooth.
Transfer this to a frying pan
add 3 cloves of chopped garlic
1 tablespoon of sumac
1 teaspoon of allspice,
½ teaspoon cinnamon.
If you like some heat, add ½
teaspoon of chili powder
2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses.
Add into the mixture 2½ cups cooked brown lentils.
Cook for 12-15 minutes on medium heat.
Now your sauce is done.
Roll out your pizza dough and make sure it is well dusted with flour to make it not stick.
Add ¾ cup of sauce
2 tablespoons of pine nuts.
Transfer to the oven and cook the pizza for 12-15 minutes till the crust is golden and crunchy!
Blend 250 grams presoaked raw cashews with 180 ml water, juice of half a lemon, and
a good pinch of salt in a high-speed blender until smooth.
It’s a perfect creamy sauce for this pizza, but also a good substitution for sour cream.
Serve the pizza with fresh pomegranate seeds, fresh cilantro and mint, a big dollop of cashew sauce or your favorite plant-based yoghurt, and a big green salad!
Ritaserano.com | Photos: © Rita Serano