Brown Rice Revisited

May 20, 2008

I made brown rice last night. That may not sound earth-shattering for a vegetarian, but the truth is that I almost never make it. I like the idea of brown rice – how it is much more flavorful and much more nutricious than white – but every time I have made it I wonder why I wasted 40 minutes on it. It almost always turns out mushy, so much so that the nice flavor boost is lost in the yucky texture.

So I was reading an article in Saveur magazine recently (Saveur is one of the few food magazines that I don’t receive) and they had a long article about brown rice. Now, I didn’t actually read the article because I didn’t find it all that interesting and these days, something has to really be fascinating for me to challenge my attention span. But, I did skip to the recipe for not-mushy-brown-rice. Long story short: you cook it like pasta. You boil a bunch of water, add some rice and a bit of salt, and then let it boil, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, then you drain it. And you know what? It was delightful. Nutty, a tiny bit crunchy (in a good way), and all the grains were separate, not a mushy one in sight.

So, I’m a convert. I do love white rice as well and I think with some dishes it just tastes better. Like Indian or Thai food for example, where you want the rice to be the backdrop for the other strong flavors on the plate. But if rice is the star of the show, I think I’m going to use brown from now on. Dinner last night came from the website and it was really good. Onions, garlic and chickpeas (I have never met a chickpea I didn’t like) sauteed until nice and browned, asparagus added in for a bit of green, and all mixed together with the rice. I spooned a delicious lemon tahini sauce over top which added just the right amount of acidity and garlicy-ness to make it all more interesting than the sum of its parts.

Tonight I am going out on a limb – Vietnamese Sandwiches from the Everyday Greens cookbook. I’m not a huge sandwich eater (vegetarian ones are always just so boring), but I am a huge Asian food eater and this sounded too interesting to pass up. Besides, I have made very few sandwiches for my clients so this is something new. Nice ciabatta type rolls will be stuffed with a delicious tofu mixture that includes onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes that have cooked down. On top of the tofu, there will be some Carrot and Daikon Radish pickles, and then the top of the roll. I’m intrigued and I hope it’s good. Along with the sandwiches, I am bringing them a Green Bean and Noodle Salad and a Spinach Salad with the rest of the Lemon Tahini Dressing from last night. The Dana Treat is Rhubarb Bars from the Simple Vegetarian Cooking cookbook. I wasn’t sure about these when I pulled them from the oven (although they smelled wonderful), but the corner I sampled is great. Today is my wonderful friend John’s birthday and I seem to remember that he loves rhubarb so these are in honor of him. Happy birthday John!

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