Revelling in rice

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There
is something comforting about a soft, pillowy pile of rice. It begins
with the aroma – even uncooked rice smells soothing, clean and
fresh. My wheat-free approach to January means I’ve been eating even
more of it than normal. We usually have it twice or three times a
week, particularly when I cook too much and end up recycling it in
fried rice.

So
far as cooking it is concerned, my advice is simple – buy a rice
cooker. They are cheap as chips – you’ll get change from a £20 note
– and take the fuss out of preparing something that can be
frustratingly difficult to get right.

Using
a rice cooker doesn’t restrict you to plain rice either. Use half
coconut milk and half water for a fragrant, delicious change, or add
a crushed cardamom pod for a hint of warming spice. You can even make
a pilaf, adding a little butter and some caramelised onions to the
mix.

A
rice salad can almost always be found in our fridge. It provides a
perfect foil for many meals and is a great lunchbox filler. They look
fabulous, too. Dark, nutty brown rice, some quinoa for a healthy
protein boost, flecks of green parsley, golden sultanas and a few
nuts thrown in along with some brightly coloured citrus zest create a
picture perfect dish for your table.

It’s
also healthy, packed with the sort of slow-release energy that’s
exactly what you need on these misty, frosty days.

Brown
rice salad with pecans and sultanas

This
may seem like rather a lot of ingredients – but feel free to chop
and change depending on what you’ve got in the kitchen

Ingredients
(Serves 4-6 as a side-dish)

  • 200g
    brown rice

  • 100g
    quinoa

  • 3
    shallots, peeled and finely sliced

  • 50g
    pecans, chopped to small-ish chunks

  • 25g
    raisins

  • 25g
    pumpkin seeds or pine nuts

  • 2
    tbs black sesame seeds

  • 100ml
    olive oil

  • 30ml
    cider vinegar

  • 1
    tbs honey

  • Zest
    of 1 orange

  • Juice
    of half an orange

  • Juice
    of half a lemon

  • A
    big bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Method

Cook
the brown rice and quinoa in separate pans according the packet
instructions (roughly half an hour for the rice and 15 minutes for
the quinoa). Once cooked, drain and spread them out on trays to cool.

While
the rice is cooking, fry the shallots in olive oil until golden
brown. Set aside to cool.

Once
the onion, rice and quinoa have cooled, mix them together along with
the rest of the ingredients except the oil, vinegar, honey and fruit
juice. Whisk these together with some seasoning and add to the rice.
Stir to combine.

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