Several times in the last few weeks, brown rice from Massa Organics has been the base for main dishes. I mix rice, cooked vegetables, cheese, herbs, and other flavorings, and serve it hot with a salad or other side dishes.
The first one was inspired by Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks website and Super Natural Cooking (a great cookbook, by the way). The dish has a somewhat Middle Eastern sensibility, with mint, thyme and feta providing strong notes on top of a subtle background of beets, rice and chickpeas (and it also had some subtle beauty, as the pigment from the golden beets bled into the rice, giving it a yellow hue).
Here’s how I made it:
- Start cooking a batch of brown rice.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Peel a few beets (preferably golden to prevent the rice from turning pink) and dice them in 5 mm cubes. Toss with oil, season with salt and pepper, and turn out onto a baking sheet. Bake until tender. (This is the quick method described in a Melissa Clark column in the New York Times in January.)
- Cook a batch of chickpeas, or open a can and drain it.
- Slice and wash a leek (or mince an onion). Cook in oil until softened.
- Chop a handful of mint and the leaves from a few thyme sprigs.
- Crumble some feta cheese.
- Just before the rice is done, reheat the beets, chickpeas, and leeks.
- When the rice is done, combine everything into a serving bowl.
Except for the chickpeas, everything came from the Berkeley farmers market, so this was a nearly completely local main dish.
My next rice dish was basic and hearty: sauteed onion, sauteed mushrooms, cheese curds (from Spring Hill Dairy), wilted spinach and cooked bacon. Simple and tasty, but missing something (perhaps I should try again during tomato season).
My most recent attempt was a riff on the picadillo I made for chiles en nogada eighteen months ago. It has complex flavors, with spices, sweet fruit, and rich cheese curd. I used these ingredients:
- Sauteed onion and diced carrots;
- Dried fruit: raisins soaked in warm water and drained; sun-dried tomatoes soaked in hot water, drained, and diced;
- Cheese curds;
- Herbs and spices: cinnamon, thyme, ground red chile, Mexican oregano (which is actually not botanically related to European oregano, as I wrote about in a post about the several types of oregano).
It was definitely a winner. Alongside a bowl of beans and some braised greens, an excellent and relatively simple-to-prepare meal.
More on Brown Rice
The San Francisco Chronicle had a few articles about brown rice in last Sunday’s food section (it still feels weird to type ‘Sunday food section’ after so many years of Wednesday food sections).