Many Ways With a Pot 'O Rice

How a big pot of whole grains can be stretched throughout the week . . .

In anticipation of making a specific recipe later in the week, I cooked up a heaping pot of rice Monday evening (with the plan to serve simple beans and rice for dinner that night). The stuffed chard leaves (recipe below) require 2 ½ cups cooked brown rice, so I wanted to have it at-the-ready in the fridge. I underestimated the amount of rice that 3 cups of dry rice would yield (lots!), but realized this wasn’t such a bad thing. Having a great quantity of cooked rice available presents a number of possibilities for the remainder of the week.

A quick note: I almost always cook brown rice, as it is nutritionally superior to white rice, though it does take a bit longer to cook. Brown rice is a whole grain, in that only its outermost layer (the hull) is removed. Alternatively, white rice has been stripped of the husk, the bran, and the germ, leaving it without many beneficial vitamins and minerals.

So, back to my leftover brown rice . . . the first thing I did was to add a bit of shredded carrot and diced avocado to a portion of the rice, maybe 1 ½ cups, and tossed it all with a small amount of sesame oil and soy sauce. This served as my kids’ lunch for Tuesday (while my husband took leftover beans and rice).

Come Thursday, a particularly busy night for us, I figured I could quickly whip up some burritos using yet more of the leftover rice. If there’s still more to be consumed come Saturday, I may just treat everyone to rice pudding (recipe also below).

Now a word about chard, as it, not rice, is what we actually have growing here on the farm. As a dark, leafy green, this is yet another one of those super foods. High in vitamins A, K, and C and also rich in fiber and protein, chard is worth getting to know. It's a member of the beet family and is more delicate than kale and even spinach.

The “Bright Lights” variety of Swiss chard that we grow has stems in varying hues of pink, orange, and yellow. The following recipe (adapted from The New Laurel’s Kitchen) says to remove the stems, but bear in mind that you can save them to chop and add to stir-fries or other dishes. You can even sauté some with the onions in this recipe.

Stuffed Chard Leaves

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 ½ cups cooked brown rice

1 ½ cups low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese

1 egg, beaten

½ cup chopped parsley

¾ cup raisins or Craisins

1 teaspoon dill weed

¾ teaspoon salt

Handful toasted pine nuts (optional)

½ lb. cooked sausage (optional)

16 large leaves Swiss chard

Preheat oven to 350˚. Sauté onion in oil. Mix all ingredients except chard. Wash and dry chard leaves and remove stems. Place 2 tablespoons or so of filling on the underside of the leaf, a third of the way from the bottom. Fold over the sides of the leaf and roll up into a square packet. Place seam-side down in a greased casserole dish. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes. Bake any extra filling and serve with stuffed leaves. Serves 6-8

I just have to tell you that I did not at all expect my increasingly-picky daughter to eat this, but I didn't care. I knew I had some cooked noodles and chicken stock in the fridge, as a backup. Over the past several weeks, upon being served chard, she has complained that it is hard to chew (it's not, really) and it gets stuck in her orthodontic appliance (which I suppose it might). She also complains how she does not care for raisins cooked in dishes and blah, blah, blah. Well, you can imagine my surprise and delight after she took several bites of these stuffed chard leaves and exclaimed, "This is delicious!!!" Miracles never cease to occur around here.

Here's a super-quick and easy dessert, which is just as good for breakfast, mind you:

Quick Rice Pudding

1 ½ cups cooked rice

2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy), divided

1/3 cup sugar, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

2/3 cup raisins

1 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance

½ teaspoon vanilla

Combine rice, 1 ½ cups milk, sugar or syrup, cinnamon, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15-20 minutes. Stir in up to ½ cup milk more (if you use syrup in place of sugar, you won’t need as much milk), beaten egg, and raisins. Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm.

Next week, perhaps, I’ll revisit the topic of whole grains and such. If you can wait that long.

Meg Dure January 28, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Love this column Lisa, we are big rice eaters , and can't wait to try the stuffed chard leaves. Yum!


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