So after the asparagus and after the sun and after the mint tea and after the cake came the evening, came a gin and tonic, came nightfall, came roast chicken with olive oil, sumac and lemon, came a pilav so green, so fresh, so vital that we could have eaten it for dinner on its own quite happily.
Give Chris a bowl of rice and he is happy, mix that rice with lots of spinach and herbs and he is happier still. For me the crunch and nutty sweetness of the pistachios was unequivocally a good thing for Chris they were nice but unnecessary. I'll leave them in.
We sat at the table and spooned out the pilav and carved the chicken and poured prosecco and after we were done we sat some more and listened to Trembling Bells. Have you heard them? I'll warn you now you might cry as I did and then you'll have to say stop, play something happy, stop making me cry with beautiful music.
And when we were done with the pilav and the chicken and the prosecco and the music I wrapped up the leftovers and decided that the best, the only way, to use them up would be to do it all over again.
Pistachio pilav with spinach and herbs (from Turquoise by Greg and Lucy Malouf
200g long-grain or basmati rice
400ml chicken stock or water
1 onion, finely diced
550g spinach leaves, washed and shredded
freshly ground black pepper
80g unsalted shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
½ cup shredded mint leaves
½ cup shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ cup chopped dill
Put the rice into a large bowl and rinse well under cold running water, working your fingers through it to loosen the starch. Drain off the milky water and repeat until the water runs clear. Cover the rice with cold water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain the rice and rinse a final time.
Bring the stock to the boil, then lower the heat and keep at a simmer.
Melt half the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and saute over a low-medium heat, stirring continuously until it starts to soften. Increase the heat, then add the spinach and stir well until any moisture has evaporated. Add the rice to the pan, then season with salt and pepper and pour in the simmering stock. Return to the boil, stir briefly, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a very low heat for 12 minutes.
In a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter. Add the pistachios and saute over a medium heat, stirring continuously until the butter foams and the nuts start to colour. Tip the browned nuts into the pan of rice with the herbs. Don't stir! Replace the lid and return the pan to a very low heat for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and use a fork to fluff up the grains and stir through the herbs and nuts. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover the pan with a clean, folded tea towel, then replace the lid and leave it to stand for 15-20 minutes. To serve, tip the rice onto a serving platter and fluff the grains up with a fork.