Every spice rack holds a jar of allspice, but few know what to do with it. And no, it's not a blend of every spice there is. It's called allspice because it tastes like a mix of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Besides being a key component of jerk seasoning, aromatic allspice is used in Caribbean soups, stews and curries as well as pumpkin pie, Christmas cake and ketchup. Here's an island-style recipe for Cook-up Rice, an everything-in-the-fridge interpretation of rice 'n' peas that features allspice.
Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large pot. Dice an onion, a green bell pepper, a zucchini and 10 button mushrooms and sauté them in the oil for 7 minutes along with a seeded and minced Scotch bonnet pepper. Add 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup canned coconut milk, 11/2 cups long-grain rice (brown if you prefer), 2 cups peeled and cubed squash (or sweet potatoes or carrots or a combination of them all), 2 tablespoons dried parsley, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 20 minutes (40 minutes if you've used brown rice). Stir in 2 cups of chopped leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, beet greens or spinach) and a 14-ounce drained can of pigeon peas, and cook a few minutes more. Turn off the heat, fluff the rice and let the pot sit on the stove for 10 minutes. Serves four to six and will keep in the fridge for several days -- if there are any leftovers. SD