Baked Mint Rice with Olive and Pomegranate Salsa

The fun part of belonging to a cooking club is that you have loads of inspiration as we have numerous guest chefs and their recipes to inspire us and to further expand the world of cooking. Two of my favorites are Yotam Ottolenghi and his pal Sammi Tamimi always tempting us with fantastic new flavors and ingredients to explore. Never disappointing me no matter what I have tried.

As I grin and creep out of my own comfort zone once again I liken some recipes to dining out exploring different restaurants, chefs, cuisines, but keeping within my own realm of cooking capabilities. Sometimes I run up against ingredients that are not available, but the cooking club allows for substitutes and adaptations. I am lucky that I don’t have a picky eater at my table and I can usually make anything that catches my eye and give a heads up to some things that he might not care for.

Yotam’s baked rice recipe was absolutely delicious and the only substitute that I made for his recipe was balsamic glaze instead of pomegranate syrup and it worked just fine in the small amount required.

I made half of Yotam’s recipe and it still served 6-8 people, slightly adapted

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
salt and black pepper
For the salsa:
40g pitted green olives, thinly sliced
seeds from 1 small pomegranate (90g)
1/2 half cup roasted pine nuts, lightly roasted
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses I substituted balsamic glaze
1 small garlic clove, crushed


Preheat the oven to 230°C fan, or as high as your oven will go.
Place the rice in a high-sided ovenproof dish, measuring 20 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 tin foil so that the rice is well sealed. Bake for 25 minutes, until the rice is light and fl uffy and all the liquid has been absorbed.
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.
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.