Category Archives: RICE DISHES

MEXICAN BLACK BEAN AND RICE CASSEROLE

Basically, I don’t like Mexican rice. Of course, as with almost everything, there are exceptions. One exception is my recipe for Mexican Rice (on this site) because it contains no tomatoes. (I don’t particularly like the taste of rice and tomatoes together.) So mainly when I place my order in a Mexican restaurant, I request no rice. But I do dearly love the combination of rice and beans. So recently I decided to work up a rice and black bean dish (sans tomato) with a decidedly Mexican flavor. And this recipe is the result.

Of course I have known for decades that rice and beans form a complete protein, so obviously this dish is perfect for vegetarians. But for those of us who are omnivores but appreciate a break from meat periodically, this dish is so filling and delicious, the lack of meat is not even noticed. And as a replacement for the mandatory Mexican rice and blob of refried beans served on every gigantic “be careful the plate is hot” entrée platter in America, there are very few rivals. (Well maybe in the Southwest, but sure as shootin’ not here in the Pacific NW!)

So next time you get a hankerin’ for Mexican food, give this dish a try. It is creamy and full of flavor. Absolutely perfect for children and adults alike. And please feel free to add your own spin to this dish. Just don’t add tomatoes. That would defeat all the hard work I put into researching and refining this dish, and that would make me sad.

  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1 c. uncooked long grain white rice, washed thoroughly and drained  
  • 1½ c. vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped onion
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (small amount)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 can black beans – rinsed and drained
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 1 (4-oz.) can diced green chiles  
  • 1 c. shredded cheese, divided (I use a combination of mozzarella and sharp cheddar)
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano (Mexican oregano is the best)
  • 2 tsp. chili powder

Heat butter in a medium sized covered saucepan. Add rice and sauté until all the rice is covered with butter and starting to brown. Add broth, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed. Add lime juice to rice, re-cover pan and continue to simmer for 2 additional minutes. Lightly fluff rice with fork and stir in black beans. Cover and heat additional 3 minutes or until beans are heated through. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream, green chiles, ¾ cup of the cheese, oregano, and chile powder. Gently stir into the rice mixture. Adjust seasoning. Scoop into a buttered casserole dish and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup cheese. Bake in a pre-heated 350 oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted.

(And yes I know brown rice is better for us than white rice. But under the circumstances, I believe you should cut me some slack because of all the nutritional value contained in the black beans. Thank you.)

 

FRIED RICE

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Yesterday while trying to decide what to fix for dinner, I remembered that I had some cooked white rice in the fridge. When I serve rice, it’s usually brown rice or some kind of pilaf. But the night before I had served a chicken curry, and I like curry best over white rice. (FYI – For my curry recipe, go to Curry Sauce for Chicken, Shrimp, Beef, or Lamb.) So with about 2 cups of cooked rice literally staring me in the face, I decided to make fried rice.

I have been making this recipe for decades. It is so tasty and the best part is that you can use as many or as few veggies as you happen to have on hand. I didn’t have any fresh mushrooms for example, so I used dry mushrooms. (Actually I prefer dried mushrooms in fried rice anyway. So no problem there.) Then I simply used the combination of veggies listed below, because they were what was in my veggie drawer. But you could add celery, bean sprouts, Fried Tofu (see recipe below), edamame, broccoli, or any other vegetable your little heart desires or you simply need to use up. (Soup and fried rice have a lot in common when it comes to using up fresh vegetables that scream at you every time you open the veggie crisper drawer!)

And the amounts listed below are merely a guideline. If you are crazy nuts about peas for example, add as many as you like. Hate mushrooms, leave them out. This recipe should be used as a simple road map to preparing a delicious side dish that is simple to make, inexpensive, and pretty to boot. And it goes well with just about any type of meat.

So do yourself and your family a favor. Get your wok out of storage, or your largest fry pan from its resting place, and build a treat for your family. Fried rice is simply an amazing dish. Kids don’t even realize they are eating veggies when they are gulping down this rice with its subtle Asian flavor. And what parent doesn’t like a little harmless subterfuge when it comes to providing their offspring with nutritious food? Or wife for that matter trying to get cruciferous veggies down her husband’s throat. (Not mentioning any names here, but I’m pretty sure you can figure out to which husband and wife team I am alluding!)

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 3 T. vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 tsp. sesame oil, divided
  • ½ c. chopped yellow onion
  • ¾ c. chopped button mushrooms or ½ c. chopped dry mushrooms, rehydrated and squeezed semi-dry
  • 2 c. cold cooked rice
  • 1/3 c. shredded carrot
  • ½ c. diced zucchini
  • ¾ c. finely sliced green cabbage
  • 2 T. vegetable, chicken, or beef broth
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T. Tamari, or more to taste (use GF Tamari to make this a GF dish)
  • ¼ c. frozen petite peas or fresh peapods, sliced
  • ½ c. sliced green onions

Beat eggs with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Heat 1 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium heat in a wok or large fry pan. Pour in beaten eggs. Stir eggs continuously until cooked dry and separated into small pieces. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil to the pan. Turn burner to medium heat. Add the yellow onion, mushrooms, and rice to the pan. Stir fry for 5 minutes. Add the carrot, zucchini, and cabbage; stir fry for an additional 4 minutes. Add the broth, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper, and Tamari. Stir to mix well. Add the peas, green onion, cooked eggs, and remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Bring up to heat. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately.

Please note: If you want to include meat in your fried rice, add as much cooked meat or cooked shrimp as you would like along with the peas, green onions, etc.

FRIED TOFU

  • ½ block extra firm tofu
  • 2 T. cornstarch, or more as needed
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

Wrap tofu in a clean, absorbent towel and set something heavy on top, such as a cast iron skillet, to press out the liquid. Let sit for a few minutes. Cut tofu into ¼-inch slices and coat with cornstarch.  Combine the vegetable oil and sesame oil in a medium frying pan. Bring oil to medium heat and fry the tofu until both sides are a nice golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. When cool cut into bite size pieces. Set aside. Add to the fried rice along with the peas, green onions, etc. Stir gentle so the tofu doesn’t break up.

 

RICE AND PASTA PILAF

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OK, it’s time to fess up. When I am trailer camping, I almost always buy packaged rice mixes as a side dish for dinners. They are easy to store, simple to prepare, and usually make enough for 2 dinners. And one of my favorites is Rice-a-Roni. (Remember, I never said I was a gourmet!) And truly, there are some pretty good rice/risotto mixes on the market today. But even though they are perfect for camping, they are expensive (for what you get), and have that subtle background taste that I really don’t enjoy. I call that flavor – “packaged”. You find it in lots of products, from pancake mix to cake mix and beyond. (And yes, I still use cake mixes occasionally. In fact, some of my favorite dessert recipes start with a cake mix. But I digress…..)

So I have determined, after performing my own very unscientific analysis on the subject, that the unpleasant background flavor I don’t appreciate comes from the ingredients that I can’t pronounce and were never a part of my grandmother’s era. (My usual guideline for what I want to put in my mouth!)

So while looking for a fairly tame side dish to go with a simple ground beef pattie and steamed green beans dinner I was planning for last evening, I went on line for inspiration. And what I found was a recipe on Allrecipes by Sarah Billings for a homemade Rice-a-Roni. Oh the joy of finding one of my favorite guilty pleasures that I could duplicate at home. Of course I added/changed a couple of ingredients from the source recipe, and what I prepared was not quite like what comes in the little red boxes. It was much better! No “packaged” flavor. No ingredients that only a mad scientist could pronounce, and the right price since I had all the ingredients on hand. (Always a bonus!)

So if you too love a simple rice side dish, this is the recipe for you. And to change it up a bit, or even make it into a main dish, just add some cooked meat or seafood, additional veggies (mushrooms come to mind), a bit of whatever kind of cheese you happen to have, and you have a wonderful dish that is easy, fast, and economical to prepare. And bottom line, your kids are going to love it. It has that creamy mouth feel that makes macaroni and cheese such a favorite with children.

And just for the record, I am still going to buy packaged rice mixes when on trailer trips. But when I am at home, you can bet your last Golden Grain $1.00 off coupon that I am going to continue making all of my rice side dishes from scratch. And this recipe is now on the top of my list!   

  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. orzo pasta
  • ½ c. uncooked white rice  
  • ½ c. diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c. chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sliced green onions
  • ¼ c. toasted slivered almonds

Melt the butter in a lidded pan over medium-low heat. Add the orzo pasta and rice and fry until just starting to turn golden brown. Stir in onion and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the broth, seasoned salt, and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the green onions and slivered almonds. Adjust seasoning. Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

WILD AND BROWN RICE PILAF WITH DRIED CRANBERRIES AND TOASTED PECANS

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I love to cook and bake with both fresh and dried cranberries, especially during the holidays. There is just something about the sweet/tart flavor of the cranberry that beautifully offsets the richness of about everything else being served. (And yes I know I am not the first person to realize that cranberries go extremely well with such dishes as roast turkey! As a child, did I not hate that red jelly like stuff that came in a can and was on our dinner table every Thanksgiving and Christmas?) Well of course I did. I was a smart child! Even at the ripe old age of 5, I knew that anything that jiggled was sure to be awful. Even at that early an age I had already developed a loathing for Jell-O that, BTW, has never wavered. To the point where my own sweet darlings never experienced Jell-O as children. So as a child myself, that red stuff that wiggled when you plopped it out of the can never really had a chance.

As a young adult however, being entertained by people with more sophisticated palates than my parents, and learning how to prepare cranberry sauce myself from fresh berries, I never looked back on that canned jellied stuff I hated as a kid. But back to this recipe. (I have no idea how or why I get off on some of my tangents, but eventually I get back on track, so please bear with me. Perhaps I have this problem because I didn’t eat enough Jell-O as a child? I can’t for the life of me think of any other possible reason!)

Anyway – this recipe for pilaf is especially wonderful when served with a rich main dish. Be it roast chicken, pork, or beef, the sweet and savory flavor and subtle tartness are just a wonderful accompaniment to the rich flavor of the meat. Served with a simple green salad or green veggie, this side dish is bound to become one of your favorites. And the fact that it bakes in the oven leaving you free to finish the other dishes you are serving or sit down and enjoy a glass of wine, is just an added bonus. So give it a try. You will not be disappointed.

  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. minced shallots
  • 1 c. wild rice
  • 1 c. short-grain brown rice
  • 4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ c. dried cranberries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves or ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ c. pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ c. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a heavy 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wild rice and the brown rice and stir until the grains are well coated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the stock, dried cranberries, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, stir and cover. Transfer the pan to a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven. Discard the bay leaf. Adjust seasonings. Stir in the pecans and parsley. Serve hot or warm.

Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Christmas, by Carolyn Miller (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

 

OVEN-BAKED BROWN RICE

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This is one of those rather non-descript side dish recipes that is good for you, but doesn’t necessarily taste like its’ good for you. You know, the kind that has nutritional value, not too much fat or salt, but is flavorful non-the-less. And I know. This is not the kind or recipe that you fall madly in love with and immediately after dinner call your best friend to tell him or her all about it. Not going to happen. But seriously, there is a need for this kind of dish in every good cooks’ repertoire. Allow me to elucidate.

Most of the time, when meat is the star of the show, and it is gussied up with the like of sauce or gravy, it requires a side that tastes and looks good, but doesn’t get in the way of the ooh/ahh that the meat wants so desperately to receive. (Kind of like the VP of the United States. He/she needs to be there to help the President, but God help him or her if they outshine the true leader/star of the show!)

But in the defense of this lowly dish, it really is tasty on its own. And the best part – it bakes in the oven which frees you up to pander to the needs of the star/meat. How terrific is that?

What I also love about this dish – the grains of rice don’t stick together. They just fluff up beautifully after the dish is out of the oven.

So when you have occasions which require a side dish/starch that can stand up for itself, but not be so presumptuous as to want to be the star, this is the dish for you. Easy, uncomplicated, tasty, nutritious, and unassuming. In other words – perfect in every respect! 

  • 1 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1 lg. clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 c. long grain brown rice
  • 2 c. chicken stock or water
  • 1½ c. water

In the bottom of a heavy, covered, oven proof pan, melt the butter and oil together over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf and cook for an additional minute. Add rice, stir well to combine, and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and water; bring to a boil. Stir the rice, cover, and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for 40 minutes in a pre-heated 375 degree oven. Remove from oven, let sit covered for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and discard. Fluff with a fork and serve.

LAMB BOBOTIE WITH YELLOW RICE (SOUTH AFRICAN)

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Well I guess the first thing to do is apologize for not posting any new recipes for the last few weeks. But I have a very good excuse. (Don’t I always!) I was in SOUTH AFRICA! Yep – you read it right – South Africa. And I have to say, my time there was one of the best travel experiences of my life. We only visited the Eastern side of the country as far up as Richards Bay and environs – Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve for wild animals and St. Lucia for an afternoon boat ride spent cruising the river estuary amid the local hippo and crocodile population. (BTW – if you are interested in how you pronounce Hluhluwe, I will give you the same advice I was given by a nice older couple from Johannesburg. “Pretend you have had too much to drink, and then slur your words. If it sounds like schlu-shlouwee, you’ve got it right!”) Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes.

We only drove from Cape Town as far up as Richards Bay, touring mostly along the coast. On the way back to Cape Town, we stuck close to the Indian Ocean again for about half the distance, then turned inland to drive through glorious mountain passes and wine country. During the 24 days that we had our rental car, we drove a total of 7,016 kilometers or 4,360 miles. And even if the amount of kilometers we travelled seems like a lot, we actually only visited a very small part of this glorious country.

And of course along the way, we had many opportunities to enjoy South African cuisine. Along our route one day, we stopped for lunch at a quiet little café. Basically it was a place to buy gourmet condiments, fresh bread, and take-away food. But we were tired, so we asked the kind server if she would heat something up for us. She said, “pleasure” and we settled ourselves in their small outside dining area to await our meal.

I truly don’t recollect what Mr. C. ordered, but I decided to try a South African comfort food  called Bobotie. Bobotie is basically a savory meat loaf flavored with curry and other aromatic spices and topped with a simple egg custard. Well from bite one I was hooked. So I decided there and then that Bobotie had to be the first South African recipe to get posted when I returned.

So for the next few weeks, my cooking time is going to be mainly spent trying to duplicate some of the amazing dishes we experienced on our trip. And because I know you all love new and different recipes to fix for your family and friends, I have faith that as you try some of these amazing dishes, you will forgive me for being away from my blog for so long.

So give this recipe a try. It’s easy to prepare and just delicious. Comfort food, Cape Town style.

  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground lamb or beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lg. carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 thick slice or 2 thin slices of white bread soaked in ¼ cup milk
  • 1/3 c. slivered or sliced almonds
  • 1/3 c. golden raisins
  • 1 c. buttermilk or plain milk (or combination)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 bay leaves
  • chutney, opt.

Heat the oil in a large fry pan. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the ground lamb and cook until just cooked through, breaking up the meat as it cooks. (You don’t want any large lumps of meat.) Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the coriander, ginger, curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, sugar, salt, pepper, grated carrot, and lemon juice. Remove from heat and add the soaked white bread, making sure you have mixed the milk and bread thoroughly. (You shouldn’t be able to see big chunks of bread). Add the almonds and golden raisins and mix through. Spoon the mixture into a lightly buttered casserole dish, press down and level the top.

Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs and pour over the meat mixture. Gently lay the bay leaves over the egg mixture for decoration.

Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. (The egg custard should be firm and set and the top a nice golden brown in color.)

Serve hot with Yellow Rice (see recipe below), Greek salad, and chutney.

YELLOW RICE

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  • 1½ c. long grain white rice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (just a bit)
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¼ c. golden raisins
  • 1 T. butter
  • 2½ c. chicken broth

Place all the ingredients in a rice cooker and set it on “go”. Serve with Bobotie or any other South African dish.

 

SPICY RISOTTO WITH SCALLOPS AND SHRIMP

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Sometimes I get so caught up in trying new recipes, I forget about preparing some of our old favorites. And this dish is no exception. So the other day when I was planning what to fix for our good friends Tim and Susie, I decided to go through my first cookbook for inspiration. And there on page 109 was this recipe which I had all but forgotten.

I can’t remember where I got this recipe (it was over 20 years ago after all), but I sure as heck know I didn’t invent this amazing concoction. I think it may have been a cooking class I took at an Italian restaurant back before the dawn of cell phones (not really, because the first mobile cell phone call was made in 1973). But you catch my drift; it was a long time ago!

In short, this is absolute perfection in risotto. The gist of the sauce (garlic, anchovies, kalamata olives, capers, tomato sauce, and parsley) is almost pure Puttanesca (on this site BTW). I strongly believe that whoever the brainchild was who dreamt up this fabulous dish simply borrowed a basic puttanesca recipe, used Arborio rice instead of pasta, and added seafood. Brilliant!

So to whoever it was that came up with this fabulous combination of ingredients, I salute you. And to those of you who give this recipe a try, I salute you too. I promise you will not be sorry, unless of course you are allergic to shellfish. Then of course, all bets are off. But if you do try this dish, and like it, send me a reply. I love hearing from you all. (If you don’t like the risotto, keep it to yourselves. I’m getting kind of a fragile ego in my old age. Right!!!!)

  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 c. arborio rice
  • 2 c. simmering chicken stock
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • generous 2 tsp. anchovy paste
  • generous 2 T. chopped fresh basil
  • generous 2 T. minced fresh parsley
  • ¼ c. chopped kalamata olives
  • 25 capers, drained
  • generous 1 T. finely chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ lb. raw scallops
  • ½ lb. raw large shrimp or prawns, peeled and de-veined (I use shrimp that are 16-20 per pound)
  • ¾ c. dry white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
  • ¼ c. tomato sauce

Melt the butter in a medium sized heavy pan. Add the rice and sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add one large soup ladle of hot stock. Stir and when all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, add another ladle of hot stock. Stir continuously. Continue adding stock until the rice is creamy but just al dente. Remove from heat and set aside. (You may have a little bit of the chicken stock left.)

After the rice is finished cooking, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic, anchovy paste, basil, and parsley. Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes, and lemon juice. Cook for 1 minute. Add the seafood and cook until just done, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine, tomato sauce, and cooked risotto. Adjust seasonings and cook until just warmed through. Serve immediately.

Hint: This is a recipe where it is almost mandatory to have all your sauce ingredients ready to go before you start cooking. The cooking process goes very quickly and there simply is not time between steps to be chopping and fetching.

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM WILD RICE PILAF

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Recently I have become totally obsessed with finding healthy side dish recipes. So I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I am to share this recipe with you today. And who better to share my obsession with, than a captive audience sitting in front of a computer screen? (I figure you wouldn’t be visiting my site unless you too weren’t hungry (so to speak) for new and exciting ways to prepare healthy and delicious dishes.)

So, a couple of days ago I was at our local Bartells. (For those of you who live outside the Seattle area, Bartells is a local drug store chain.) And whenever I go to Bartells for legitimate drug store items, such as makeup, I always peruse the middle isle for packaged foods that are featured at a discounted price.

This last visit I found great prices on flavored almonds and Lundberg rice products. So I bought two packages of their wild rice blend.

When I got home I immediately went on line and visited the Lundberg site for recipe ideas. And this recipe literally jumped off the screen and onto a word document before I even knew what hit me. It is gluten free (if you use GF tamari), vegetarian, and full of nutritious ingredients. What can be better than that? Well the fact that it’s absolutely delicious sure doesn’t hurt either!

So however you want to approach this recipe, as a delicious side dish or as a healthy side dish, you’re 100% covered.

So hurry up and read the recipe and get thee to the grocery store if you need ingredients, or straight to the kitchen if you don’t, and build your family a side dish that comes with its own PhD. (P-painless to prepare, h-healthy, D-delicious) And thank you Lundberg for both the lovely wild rice blend and the recipe. (Sorry for the slight modification.)

  • ¾ c. dried mushrooms* (shiitake, chanterelle, porcini) cut or broken into small pieces
  • 1 c. very hot water
  • 1 c. combination wild and whole grain brown rice (or Lundberg Wild Blend)
  • 1¾ c. vegetable broth (I use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 med. onion, finely chopped
  • 2 c. fresh button mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced (about 8 medium mushrooms)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 oz. spinach, stems removed and rough chopped
  • 1 T. gluten-free tamari soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. sliced green onions or chives, garnish

*if you don’t have dried mushrooms, use another 2 cups of fresh button mushrooms

Place dried mushrooms in a bowl. Add the hot water and set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, bring the broth and rice to a boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat (with lid on) and let steam for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook until softened; stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Drain the re-hydrated mushrooms and add to the pan along with the spinach; cook until spinach just starting to wilt. Stir in the tamari, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

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Gently fold mushroom-spinach mixture into cooked rice and garnish with green onions or chives.

SPLIT EMMER FARRO AND WILD RICE PILAF

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI found this recipe on the Bluebird Grains Potlatch Pilaf package. (Say that three times in a row for your daily tongue twister teaser!) Anyway, like I started to say, I found and prepared this dish (made a few minor changes here and there), loved it, and I am very excited to share the recipe with you.

Now I know that some of you are not in the habit of buying packages of grain and grass seed* except for the ones found in the bird-food section of your grocery store. But I’m going to ask you to put on your big kid pants, conquer your fear of growing feathers and wanting to fly south for the winter, and give this organic, healthy, protein rich, and GMO-free product a try. Plus, for all you locavores**, the farro is grown in the upper Methow Valley of Eastern Washington. (That’s local enough for this locavore!) The organic wild rice unfortunately is not grown locally. But I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you one little bit since Washington isn’t known for its wild rice production. (We leave that distinction to Minnesota, the land of 15,000 lakes.)

So, regardless of where the grains were raised, and despite the fact that we don’t really know whether the grains were lovingly tended and exposed to classical music as they were growing up***, all of us could profit from a few more healthy grains like farro and wild rice in our diet. So, fly to your local grocery store (and I mean “fly” figuratively rather than literally), and bring home a grain or two with which you are completely unacquainted. Then give it or them a try. You are going to find that the likes of quinoa, red rice, farro, and wild rice are just delicious. And I can’t overemphasize their nutritional value. Oh I could, but I think I have already nagged said enough on that subject!

For more recipes that feature farro, type “farro” in the search field at the top of the “home” screen.

*wild rice is a highly nutritious annual water-grass seed “zizania aquatica” naturally abundant in the cold rivers and lakes of Minnesota and Canada

**the practice of eating food that is locally grown

***my not too subtle dig directed at the kind of people who carry their need for information on food ingredients and growing conditions to the ridiculous

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 button mushrooms, halved and then thinly sliced
  • ¼ c. chopped shallot or onion
  • 1 lg. garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Herbs de Provence (preferably without lavender)
  • 1 c. Bluebird Grains Farm’s Potlatch Pilaf (or ¾ cup farro and ¼ c. wild rice)
  • ¼ c. dry sherry or dry white wine
  • 2 c. vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/3 c. toasted slivered almonds

In a medium sized covered saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add mushrooms, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the chopped shallot and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute or until the garlic releases its aroma. Stir in salt, pepper, Herbs de Provence, and the Potlatch Pilaf mix. Stir frequently for about 3 minutes. Add the sherry and cook for about a minute, or until the sherry is evaporated. Pour in the broth, bring to a vigorous simmer, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in the toasted almonds just before serving.

 

 

KALE AND WILD RICE SALAD

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This is my adaptation of PCCs Emerald City Salad. PCCs recipe calls for half a bunch of kale and half a bunch of chard, half a red pepper and half a yellow pepper, and half a fennel bulb. I don’t like “half a somethings”. As much as possible I like to use the entire pepper, or bunch of green onions or whatever. And that’s because I unfortunately have this unforgivable tendency to forget about “half a somethings” and let them turn to “ish” in my veggie drawer. And I know. You would expect a savvy person like me to have my culinary life better organized. Forget that! I’m as capable as the next person when it comes to forgetting what lies at the bottom of my refrigerator. In fact, I may actually be better at it than any of you. (I know, not something to be proud of.) But enough about my shortcomings and more about this amazing salad.

Mr. C and I first enjoyed this salad at our friend Rachael’s home. She had purchased the salad from her local PCC. Now being the food snob that I am, I assumed that any purchased salad could never taste as good as one prepared at home. What I was forgetting was that the salad came from PCC. PCC knows how to do food right. Of course you pay through the nose for their deli items, but the few I have tasted have been first cabin. And I know they are made with fresh organic ingredients and contain no unhealthy additives.

So before you prepare this salad, should you have any misgivings, go to your nearest PCC, after first hitting your local cash machine of course, and give this salad a try. Then having learned that the salad is absolutely delicious, give my version a try. I promise you won’t miss the chard, or the flavor of both a red and a yellow pepper, or the additional thin slices of fennel. Just don’t not make this salad. It is ever so healthy for you without making you feel like you have had to sacrifice flavor for the pleasurable feeling of virtuosity. I say that’s a win/win situation.

  • 1 c. uncooked wild rice
  • 3 c. salted water
  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, cut into bite sized pieces and massaged (see massage instructions below)
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced (or half a red & half a yellow pepper)
  • 1 carrot, cut into match stick sized pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • ½ c. chopped Italian parsley

Bring water to a boil; add rice. Stir. Bring rice back to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until the water is absorbed, 60 to 65 minutes; remove from heat and let cool. (Or do like I do –use your rice cooker!) While the rice cooks, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. When the rice is cool, toss it with the dressing. Just before serving, toss the massaged kale, red pepper, carrot, fennel, green onions, and parsley in with the dressed rice. Add salt if needed.

Salad can be made up to 4 days in advance.

Massaged Kale:

Using your fingers, rub the kale until it turns a darker green and when tasted, has lost all its bitterness.