Beets shine like ruby-red jewels among the deep, black grains of rice. Little sprinkles of vitamin-rich sesame seeds add a toasty complement to the rich Middle Eastern spices.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced (about 1½ cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
2 teaspoons za’atar or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, and 2 teaspoons sumac
1 carrot, diced
1 large beet, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
5 cups water
2 tablespoons tahini
⅓ cup black rice or mixed wild rice, rinsed in a sieve until the water runs clear, and soaked while preparing the other ingredients
Peel of 1 lemon, grated (about 2 teaspoons)
- In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Cook the leeks and garlic, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the mixture is soft and translucent. Stir in the salt, pepper and za’atar and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Stir in the carrot and beet and cook for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- In a small bowl, add ¼ cup of the water and the tahini and stir to dissolve. Add to the pot and stir to combine.
- Stir in the rice and the remaining quart water. Increase the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender but still has some bite to it (al dente).
- Serve warm with a sprinkle of the lemon peel.