Wednesday, April 14, 2010

'Tarting up' brown rice

A few days ago I wrote about brown rice as a great gluten-free staple food and credited it with helping me lose a little weight. One of my faithful readers, Kishia, immediately responded that she liked the idea BUT that brown rice can get boring sometimes. Kishia is a Facebook friend and one of my daughter Katie's best friends from childhood.

Then, my friend Irene quickly came to the rescue with a few ideas for "tarting up (her phrase)" brown rice dishes. "Herbs, hot sauce, or lemon pepper are just three ways to liven up brown rice," she advises.

I use a little unsalted butter and some soy sauce to season plain brown rice. These may be counter-productive for those on fat restricted or low salt diets. When I have leftover brown rice for breakfast, I add half a banana, chopped, a pat of butter and some honey before I microwave it.

I also think short grain brown rice has a more interesting texture than long grain brown rice.
I mentioned before that I am partial to the Lundberg brand. Then today while sorting through piles of clippings and unopened mail I found the following recipe for Short Grain Spanish Rice, clipped from my last bag of Lundberg.

Short Grain Spanish Rice

1 can (14.5 oz) undrained diced tomatoes
2-3 cups water or chicken broth
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 and 1/2 cups Lundberg Short Grain Brown Rice
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Drain tomatoes, reserving liquid. Add to the reserved liquid enough water or broth (or combination, thereof) to make 3 cups. Set aside.
Heat oil in 4-quart heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; saute briefly. Add rice and cayenne; stir.
Add the 3 cups reserved liquid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cover and continue cooking 20 minutes.
Remove from heat, let stand in covered pot for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork, salt to taste.
Yield: 5 cups, 6-7 servings.

I haven't tried this but it does sound yummy.

Now, after finding the above recipe, I decided to go online to find a recipe for rice pudding made with brown rice. I've always loved rice pudding which I learned to eat in the school cafeteria in Benton, Arkansas. Of course, that was long ago when school cafeterias first started getting federal funds and all the food was cooked in house and served from steam tables and there were no snack food or drink machines to be found.

Brown rice requires more water and more cooking time so regular recipes for rice pudding just don't work. I'd never thought to look online before, but I found several at the Lundberg website:

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

1 1/2 cups cooked Lundberg® Short Grain Brown Rice
3 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins or chopped dates (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups milk
finely chopped nuts (optional)

Beat eggs, add sugar, beat until smooth. Add milk, salt and extract. Add rice and raisins. Pour into greased shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Set in pan of hot water and bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes or until custard is set. After baking for approximately 30 minutes, gently stir custard to suspend rice. Serve warm or cold with milk or whipped cream. Serves six.

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