3 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, trimmed and chopped, including the green part of the stalk
1 garlic clove
1 cup Greek nihaki or other short grain rice
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup water
Pinch of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon saffron powder or a pinch of saffron threads
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small egg
½ – 1 cup breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese
Flour for dredging
Oil for frying
Arugula and some parmesan or other hard cheese, shaved for a simple salad
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot and cook the leek and garlic until soft and lightly colored. Add the rice, stir to coat in the oil, and add turmeric, stock and water. Season with salt and pepper. Dilute the saffron threads if using, in a tablespoon of warm water and add to the rice. If using saffon powder, mix it into the simmering rice. Stir to distribute the saffron evenly. Simmer the pilaf covered until the rice absorbs all of the water. Remove from heat, remove lid and cover pot with a kitchen towel. Let the rice cool completely.
Mix the egg and cheese into the cooled rice. Add enough breadcrumbs to form a mass firm enough to hold its shape when formed into patties.
Shape the rice into small patties, about 2 ½ in./ 6 ½ cm in diameter. Dredge lightly in flour. Heat two inches of cooking oil in a medium pot and fry the patties a few at a time. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve hot or warm with a simple arugula – parmesan salad.
By Diane Kochilas