Oh, food. Is there anything you can't do? Food can heal you when you're sick, comfort you when you're sad and turn an evening from average to fantastic. And it's not just eating food, or sharing it, writing about it or photographing it that can make you feel fantastic - the act of cooking can be magical, too. Spending an hour over a vat of Bolognese when I'm full of cold, inhaling the scents of tomato and garlic, feels like it does as much good as eating it. Coming home after a bad day and spending some time preparing something delicious can clear my mind and make me forget about rubbish things, because sometimes it's important to spend a bit of time on something lovely for yourself. This is why I love cooking, and as I've matured as a cook, this is why I love cooking for other people and giving them a taste of all the things it makes me feel.
I like to call this recipe Man Flu Mexican Rice, created off the top of my head on the way home to a sniffly boyfriend a couple of weeks ago. I get colds way more than Matt, so I'm unusually sympathetic when he's afflicted. And once I've forced Vitamin C, Zinc and Lemsip down his throat, I turned to food (my first love) to try and make him feel a bit better. So we have congestion-fighting chilli, immune-boosting avocado, vitamin C-packed red pepper, spinach and tomatoes, fibre-rich brown rice, full-of-iron paprika and lots of lovely antiviral garlic, onion and mushrooms. And chorizo, because it's delicious. Oh, and high in protein!
Why yes, I did do a lot of googling to write that paragraph. But if Google says it's true, it's true, right? And in all honesty, you can't go wrong with packing your meals full of vegetables and colour. Eat the rainbow, and your body will thank you. This is basically a cheat's Jambalaya or Paella, but I'm all for a shortcut when it's on the table in 20 minutes and tastes this good.
Man Flu Mexican Rice (or Cold Fighting Chorizo Rice, you pick)
100g chorizo sausage (about half a horseshoe)
100g brown rice
1/2 red onion
1/2 red pepper
1 small bag of spinach
Handful of mushrooms
Handful of cherry tomatoes
1 red chilli, deseeded
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Guacamole:
1 clove garlic
1/2 red chilli, deseeded
Salt and pepper, to taste
Squeeze of lime, if you have it
2. Chop up all that lovely veg, then in a non-stick frying pan or wok, add your onion, mushroom, pepper and garlic.
3. Cook the vegetables until softened (with a splash of water if they stick), then add the chorizo, spinach, chilli and paprika. Stir and let the flavours combine for a few mins.
4. While they're cooking, make your guac. The guac is optional, but in my house, guac is never optional. Mash up your avocados, stir in the chopped and deseeded chilli, add a hearty shake of salt and pepper and some lime if you have it (I rarely do, I think this is probably against the guac rules but pfffft.)
5. Once the rice is done, drain and add to the frying pan, then stir well until it's coated in that lovely orangey chorizo oil. Add your sweet chilli sauce, tomato puree and salt and pepper, stir well and let it all cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and add any extra flavourings it might need.
6. Finally, chop up your tomatoes and stir through until they're just warmed, then you're good to go. Dish up in big bowls with a dollop of guacamole each, and agree that yes, this is a damn sight tastier than Lemsip.
I prefer this fresh to reheated, so I recommend cooking for the amount of people you have rather than doing as a batch cook, but if you are cooking for 4, simply double the quantities. To be honest, it's not a very scientific dish. A blob of sweet chilli here, an extra sprinkle of paprika there... do whatever you fancy, throw in whatever veg is left in the bottom of the fridge, leave out the spinach altogether - as long as you have rice, veg and chorizo, your tummy will be happy.