Oh humble grain of rice, how I love thee.
I really, really love rice. Brown rice, white rice, Jasmine rice, sushi rice…I love all of you. Except wild rice, I don’t care for wild rice, but that’s ok since it’s not really rice at all. (It’s actually grass, it’s related to rice but it’s not rice.)
Not only is rice delicious, it’s cheap. Rice is one of my favorite ways to turn a few ingredients into a meal. Here are some meals that will feed a crowd, are inexpensive to prepare and will stretch those grocery dollars:
1. Serve under a curry. Don’t let the word curry intimidate you, curries are very simple, inexpensive dishes. Preparing a curry is a great way to use up the leftovers in your fridge as well.
Here is a recipe for a simple curry sauce, use what you have on hand (I never, ever put cilantro in curries, or anything else.) While you’re making this sauce sautee whatever you have on hand (chicken, garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, diced potatoes, zucchini, leftover veggies, etc) and prepare a pot of rice. When all is done put some rice in the bowl, layer some of the sauteed veggies, pour the curry sauce over all. yum!
2. Fried Rice is another great use of leftovers, and delicious!
To make fried rice you need to first cook and cool some rice. In general 1 cup of rice per person (cooked) is recommended but don’t be afraid to make more, this keeps well in the fridge.
While the rice is cooling saute some onions & garlic in oil. Add in some finely cut bits of cooked meat if you have it (almost any type of meat will work, our favorites are bacon and chicken thigh). Toss in some veggies and cook a little longer. Frozen veggies work great for this, but whatever leftover you have in the fridge works too.
Add the cooled rice to the cooked veggies, add a little more oil and mix well. Traditionally fried rice has an egg in it, if you want to include the egg now is the time. Push everything over to the side of the pan and scramble an egg or two into the pot. When the eggs are cooked mix them into the rice.
Add some spices and you’re done. You can use a prepared spice mix but if you don’t want to start with: black pepper, salt, a tiny bit of cinnamon, powdered ginger & a bit of chili powder. Or use Chinese 5 Spice blend if you have it. Taste & adjust seasonings.
3. Jambalaya is a popular dish here in the south, and it’s nothing more than what I call “stuffed soup”. Here is a recipe for a quick jambalaya. As with fried rice you can use almost any type of meat in jambalaya, even ground beef.
4. Dirty rice is another southern favorite. I like to make dirty rice as a breakfast meal, using brown rice & topping it with a runny fried egg. Here is a recipe to check out. You can substitute any ground meat in this recipe.
5. Paella is a humble dish often served in seaside communities. I don’t live in a seaside community (and wow seafood is expensive!) and I’m allergic to shellfish so our version usually substitutes cooked chicken (diced) and polish sausage (sliced) for the seafood. I know it’s tempting to use a boxed paella mix but please, please don’t. I’ve yet to taste a boxed mix that has even half of the flavor of home cooked.
Here is a great recipe for paella to try.
So now it’s YOUR turn! How do you like to use rice?