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vegetables | rice towers drizzled with warm tomato vinaigrette

Makes 4 towers

These are impossible to eat without collapsing everywhere - which is great fun when with friends! It's a lovely dish for summer or winter - as a supper, starter or light supper. And it can be teamed with other dishes for a bigger feast.

Wheat free, dairy free, nut free, meat free version...




  1. Heat the oven to 120°C.
  2. If you're making all 4 towers (not halving the mixture), and you need to cook the aubergine slices in 2 batches (because you can only fit half the slices in the pan at one time), then start cooking them first. Heat 2-3 tbsp of oil and cook the slices until golden on both sides.
  3. After you've cooked one batch, put them in the oven to keep warm and start boiling the rice according to packet instructions.
  4. In a bowl, mix 1 tbsp oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, tomatoes and spring onions.
  5. If using, wilt the spinach by pouring boiling water over it whilst it's in a colander. Leave to cool.
  6. When the rice is ready, rinse and let it drain. Then add the basil and seeds, mixing well.
  7. Put the tomato mixture in a pan and heat gently - I quickly rinse out the rice pan and use that.
  8. Squeeze the water out of the spinach, making sure it's cool enough - otherwise you'll get a nasty shock if hot water is still trapped between the leaves.
  9. When the second batch of aubergine slices is ready, make a flat bed of spinach on each plate and put a slice of the aubergine on top.
  10. Then sandwich a spoonful of rice in between aubergine slices, making towers - you can use one of the cooking rings if you have them, which means you can compact the layers in the ring and then take it off.
  11. Drizzle the tomato dressing over the towers.
  12. Add black pepper and serve.

Maybe serve with...

These are lovely with asparagus, broccoli, and/or the courgette ribbons . If you don't want to use spinach, try salad leaves (chard works well) mixed with grated or finely cubed beetroot. If you haven't got metal rings to make towers, improvise and cut two long strips from a cereal box to make a circle approximately 3cm deep and 6cm wide (so, probably needs to be 3cm deep and 8cm wide). Make sure waxy side is inward, and just sticky tape one side over the other to make a ring. Failing that, if you didn't want to make towers, cube the aubergine before cooking and add to the rice, scoop onto the plate and drizzle with the tomato mixture for a more rustic approach!

For those able to eat wheat...

You could also serve with your favourite hot bread.

If you have spinach leftover, see the cheat's lasagne, if you have aubergines leftover, see the aubergine caponata and simple ratatouille. If you have salad leaves leftover, see the lemon dressed leaves.

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