Rice is one of the least expensive grains and it is also highly digestible. I just don’t like to overeat it because it doesn’t have a ton of nutrition and it can cause a blood sugar spike on its own. So ideally, I will bulk up rice with lots of non-starchy vegetables. You can top this rice chopped salad with tuna, turkey or chicken, or cooked beans to make this a complete meal. I even grated hard boiled eggs on top once and it was delicious! It lasts a good 5 days in the fridge too.
It’s the perfect time to try a new one-pot meal! September is like the New Year, in a way. And I am back into a cooking routine, but I want to ease back into it. This recipe is a twist on my favorite one-pot meal, Mediterranean Chicken with Rice. There’s also another variation in my cookbook, Quicker Than Quick, called Weeknight Arroz con Pollo. Delicious!Continue reading
One of my resolutions for 2016 is to entertain more at home than I did in 2015. I used to invite friends over 2-3 times/month before I started teaching cooking classes full-time. By the time Friday rolls around, I’m kind of over major food prep. So cooking for friends fell by the wayside. But I realized it’s also one of my favorite ways to spend my time so I need to find a way to bring that back into my life!
My goal is to entertain more simply with less pressure to make everything Pinterest and Insta-worthy. Good friends don’t care. I know this is true because when someone invites me over for a meal, I am more excited about spending quality time with my friends than what is on the menu. So for my last blogpost of 2015, I thought I would share an easy, delicious and very popular recipe that might encourage you to invite friends over during the holidays.
These risotto cakes made an appearance in my Party Foods class last December and I remember the kids hoping there were some extra when they returned home from school. I love it when I have a recipe which is just as popular with kids as adults! Essentially, you take leftover risotto and form it into a small patty (1-2 bites each), coat that in beaten egg and bread crumbs and saute in olive oil in a skillet. The good news is that you don’t have to make proper risotto for this recipe. No stirring every 5 minutes or standing over the pot. The only goal is to have a cold rice mixture that is sticky enough to form a little patty.
I have mixed feelings about rice since there are pros and cons to both brown and white rice (brown you have to soak + contains arsenic, white is lacking the fiber.) So my rule of thumb is that if I don’t have time to soak brown rice, I go with white. But I’m sure you could make this with short grain brown rice and just cook it for longer. Either way, you can make the rice today, form the patties tomorrow and saute them before your friends come over on New Year’s Eve! Keep them warm in a 250 degree oven for up to an hour if necessary.
What’s also nice about these little cakes is that you can eat them plain or top them with any number of toppings from store bought tapenade to pesto aioli (shown here — nothing more than pesto mixed with a little Vegenaise) to sautéed mushrooms or garlicky greens or a tomato compote. You can also make them bigger and serve with a green salad for brunch, lunch or dinner. A poached egg on top would round it all out.
In other news, and perhaps to help with possible new year’s resolutions, I am starting a new regular blogpost on Sundays, beginning January 3rd. It will be a weekly dinner planner to offer inspiration and suggestions on what to make. Many of my students have asked me for this, despite the fact I post my weekday dinners on Instagram and Facebook ;). For those of you aspiring to cook more from scratch and use more natural, plant-based foods, I think this new weekly blogpost will come in handy. Wishing you and yours a safe, happy, and healthy new year! xoxo
1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs (look for gluten-free bread crumbs to make this a GF recipe)
Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and 1 ¾ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often, until rice starts to crackle, about 1 minute. Stir in the wine and let simmer, stirring often, until completely absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add all the stock, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed the broth and is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.
When the rice is done, taste for seasoning and remove to a large bowl and let sit until cooled to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.
When risotto is fully chilled, place the eggs in a shallow dish and beat with a fork. Set aside. Place the panko bread crumbs in a second shallow dish and set aside.
Measuring about 2 Tablespoons per cake, form the risotto into small, round 1 ½ inch patties. If the risotto is sticking to your hands too much, moisten them with a little water. If the rice isn’t sticky enough and the patties aren’t holding together, squeeze the rice in your palm a couple of times until it sticks.
Working with 1 risotto cake at a time, coat it with egg, letting any excess drip off, then coat it evenly with the panko, pressing gently so the breadcrumbs adhere. You can do this in the morning and refrigerate until ready to sauté.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the risotto cakes and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking, adjusting the heat if necessary, until golden brown and heated through, about 2-3 minutes more.
You can keep the cakes warm in a 250 degree oven on a baking sheet if necessary or transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Serve hot.
You can also add sautéed kale or spinach to the risotto before cooling, or sautéed diced mushrooms. You can serve these with a little pesto or pesto aioli, warm tomato sauce or a red pepper sauce, whipped goat cheese or sautéed mushrooms on top.
We made it to Barcelona! Neither my husband, the kids , nor I has ever been to Barcelona before, and hubby and I haven’t been to Spain in 17 years! We are very excited to start our European vacation here. So much to see and do in a short amount of time!
As you would imagine, I am fairly obsessed with what people eat around the world. As much as I love visiting landmarks and museums and churches (I am actually also obsessed with churches), local markets and restaurants are high on my list of places to experience. I am fairly open-minded when it comes to trying new foods, although I am not a huge fan of meat, game and pork. I know, my options will be limited in Barcelona since every other menu item contains some sort of the above mentioned. Moderation is my mantra.
I am for sure on the lookout for excellent paella, which is basically like the national rice dish of Spain. I L-O-V-E rice in any way, shape or form. Paella is particularly delicious because it is typically cooked with lots of seafood, chicken, pork and some other tidbits like olives and roasted peppers all mixed together in the same saffron-infused dish. It’s so tasty. And it’s basically Mr. Picky’s nightmare since he would eat all of those things PLAIN, and “why did they have to mess this up by cooking it all together?!” I already gave Mr. Picky a pep talk before we left about being open-minded about food, otherwise he might ended up starving, or worse, really cranky. I’ll keep you posted, friends. Wish me luck.
Whether I find the perfect paella in Barcelona or not (and if you know where I should go, speak up!), I did teach this Vegetable Paella in my cooking classes this past spring. And I might admit, it was so flavorful and rich even without all the meat. You don’t normally find paella loaded with vegetables, and I find that true about a lot of the dishes in Spain – not very veggie-heavy, unless you count (fried) potatoes as a veg. Asparagus, peppers, artichokes (by all means, use frozen), tomatoes, mushrooms all go in here. I did make this several times for my vegetarian students with veggie stock, and it was very good, but I do prefer using chicken stock.
The one ingredient that is missing from this paella recipe that makes it an imposter and non-authentic is saffron, which gives the rice a beautiful gold color and imparts a unique flavor. Saffron is absurdly expensive and I have always had success substituting a bit of ground turmeric for saffron when I need that great yellow tint. If you have saffron however, by all means use it by crumbling it and dissolving it in some hot stock.
I love eating this paella with a green salad on the side and that’s it (although a pitcher of sangria wouldn’t hurt.) More from Barcleona to come, including my quest for the best paella!
2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup drained sliced jarred pimientos, chopped (one 4-ounce jar) or equivalent amount of roasted red pepper, diced
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped or ½ an 18-ounce jar of diced tomatoes, drained
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt (or more if your stock is unsalted)
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika or sweet pimenton
1 ½ cups rice, preferably medium grain such as bomba or arborio
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
6 ounces artichoke hearts, either frozen and thawed or jarred and drained*
optional: serve with lemon wedges on the side
In a large skillet pan (between 12-14 inches,) heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the pimientos, tomato and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
Stir in the salt, both paprikas, turmeric, and rice. Add the chicken stock and parsley and bring to a boil. Continue cooking over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, about 7 minutes.
Stir in the asparagus, peas, and artichokes. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
*to give the artichokes some extra flavor, pat them dry and sauté them in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
you can also add mushrooms to the paella to add a meatiness. Sauté with onion in Step 1.
We all have those recipes we love but don’t make very often (for me it’s chicken pot pie and spanakopita.) And then there are the recipes you rely on when you don’t want to think about what to make. Those are your go-to, no-fail, everyone-loves-this recipes. I wish I had an endless supply of those. But I am going to share one of my-go’s with you today! This roasted veggie buddha bowl is just that. I swear I could eat this every day. I taught this recipe in my classes in January and I actually did eat it every day and I never got tired of it.
A Buddha bowl is really just a simple combination of (usually) lightly steamed vegetables on top of a gluten-free grain, like brown rice, and often topped with a sauce or dressing of sorts. It is a very clean and healthful meal, but very satisfying. Personally, I prefer all my meals in a bowl. I love when all my food gets combined and every bite has a little bit of everything. It’s Mr. Picky’s worst nightmare.
A Buddha bowl is flexible. Clean out of the vegetable crisper and use what you’ve got. Not in the mood for rice? Use quinoa or millet. Soy or peanut-based sauces are very popular on Buddha bowls, but I am kind of obsessed with my lemon-tahini dressing from this salad, so I adapted that for this recipe. And even though I said a Buddha bowl is usually made with steamed vegetables, who says you can’t roast them? Like with a little coconut oil until the edges are just a bit crispy. Heaven!
I make dinner for my family every night (and if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you would know exactly what that looks like!) Even though I am a big proponent of one meal for all, there always those days I ate a late lunch after a class and I’m not feeling like the roast chicken and potatoes I am making for dinner that night. This Buddha bowl is my go-to on nights like that. I’ll make a big pan of roasted veggies for all of us and then whip up this dressing and a pot of steamed quinoa and voila! I have something a little lighter and I’m a happy camper. That’s not to say that my husband and my kids don’t like Buddha bowls. They all really do, especially my girls. As you would imagine, Mr. Picky doesn’t exactly eat his in a bowl. Rice in one separate, distinct area on a plate, roasted veg in another and hold the dressing, please. No problem, dude.
If you decide to make this dressing for your Buddha bowl, you really have a nice vegetarian meal no matter what grain you use since tahini is basically just sesame paste. Sesame seeds are high in protein, good fats and did you know, calcium? Just good to know if you’re looking for non-dairy sources of calcium. And if you make this with broccoli and kale, you have a very calcium-rich meal. I also like to sprinkle everything my Buddha bowl with gomasio, a macrobiotic condiment which is just a mixture of sesame seeds and sea salt. The one I use by Eden Organic also has seaweed in it. If you have all the other ingredients, but not the gomasio, make this anyway — you will love it and you will feel awesome after eating it. Have a lovely weekend!
Roasted Vegetable Buddha Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Dressing (makes about 2 Tablespoons/serving):
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about 1 small lemon
2 small cloves of garlic, grated or minced or just smash the cloves if you don't actually want to eat the garlic, but still have a subtle garlic flavor
¼ cup raw tahini (roasted tahini is fine, but raw is a little milder)
3-4 Tablespoons room temperature or warm water
¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
pinch of cayenne (optional)
8-10 cups mixed vegetables such as 1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and stems, trimmed and chopped AND 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets*
2 Tablespoons melted unrefined coconut oil or unrefined olive oil
3-4 large leaves of kale, washed, dried, stems removed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Steamed brown rice, millet or quinoa for serving (optional)
Plain or seaweed gomasio for sprinkling on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
Make the dressing (or you can make while the vegetables are roasting): in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, water, olive oil, salt and cayenne until well blended. Just use the amount of water you need to get the consistency you want.
In a large bowl, toss the broccoli and cauliflower with the coconut oil. Don’t wash the bowl yet. Place the broccoli and cauliflower in one layer on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, or until tender and golden in spots. I like to turn the vegetables after about 15 minutes.
Take the kale leaves and rub them around the bowl with any remaining coconut oil until lightly coated. Tear until large pieces and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on top of the broccoli and cauliflower in the oven and roast until the kale is just crispy, about 5-10 minutes.
If you’d like to eat this as a “bowl,” place a scoop of rice/millet/quinoa in a bowl and top with the vegetables. Spoon some sauce over everything and sprinkle with gomasio, if desired.
*Other roasted veggies that would be great are beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes!
I am 100% Italian and I absolutely love pasta, but I also looooooove rice. Love! I am crazy about all kinds of rice and it shows in my pantry. I have so many varieties of both white and brown rice and I never get tired of it. Overeating pasta doesn’t make me feel great and makes it very hard for me to maintain any semblance of an ideal weight. But I digest rice really well and I think it’s so versatile and really easy to pair with food from any cuisine, even Italian!
I know rice has gotten some bad media attention in the last year due to some scary reports about unsafe levels of arsenic found in many rice products. Please read this article I wrote last year so that you are informed and don’t get freaked out. There are ways you can significantly reduce any arsenic present in whole rice (not much you can do about arsenic in rice cakes or rice cereal, which is why I have reduced the kids’ exposure to rice-derived products.) Basmati rice, which I think has the best flavor and is my favorite variety, also seems to have the least amount of arsenic. Lucky me!
I have a beautiful and very healthful rice recipe I’d like to share and I don’t want you to get scared off by the unusual color or that I labeled it “Indian.” I know there are some of you out there who think you don’t like Indian food. And maybe you tried some from a not-so-great place and it was lousy. In that case, I don’t blame you. BUT. Let’s leave the past behind and look forward to something that IS delicious. Furthermore, this rice recipe is so basic and neutral. It’s not spicy nor doesn’t it have a flavor that is outside of most people’s comfort zone. It will go with that roast chicken you’re making later or my spice-rubbed salmon. And if you’re vegetarian, you can just eat this bowl of golden goodness with a green salad or some roasted vegetables (eggplant is nice right now) and you’ll be all set. Rice and peas together will give you plenty of protein, not to worry.
The crazy beautiful color of this rice comes from turmeric, the most talked about, most popular spice of the moment that is basically anti everything you don’t want. Anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, etc. Someone just told me that there was a study done on Indians (people living in India) because they have the lowest incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and it is attributed to their abundant intake of turmeric. I try to use fresh turmeric when I juice and I have been using it in place of saffron, as well (like in that vegetable paella I was talking about.) I have also included turmeric in my DIY taco seasoning and Chicken and Vegetable Curry. Just be forewarned, it stains like mad so use extra caution when serving anything with turmeric, even be careful of your countertops. (As a last resort, I have had success using a drop of Clorox Clean-up to get out a stubborn turmeric stain in my white marble countertops.)
If you have leftovers of this rice, definitely consider using it in lunchboxes the next day. Are we surviving making lunches?? See this post if you’re still at a loss. Back to rice — make this! Try something new! Let me know how it goes!
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, coconut oil or olive oil (I think butter tastes best.)
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric (you can use more, but you’ll taste it)
2 cloves crushed garlic
½ cup frozen peas
chopped cilantro to taste, if desired
Rinse your rice in a fine mesh sieve, if desired. Transfer rice to a medium saucepan and add all ingredients except peas and cilantro.
Bring to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer. Cook white rice for 18-20 minutes, brown rice for 45-50 minutes, or until all water has evaporated.
Add frozen peas to rice and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
Fluff rice with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired.
If you are concerned about arsenic, you should soak your rice in water for 1-8 hours before using it. That process also makes brown rice more digestible. If you do soak the rice, you will cook it in less time and you can use a few Tablespoons less water, depending on how long you soaked it. Test brown rice for doneness after 35 minutes, and white rice after 15 minutes.
We all love to cook, right? Ok, maybe some us just like to cook. And I know that I’m the biggest cheerleader of planning your meals ahead so that dinnertime is stress free and a walk in the park. Yeah. Well, gotta tell you that this week did not go as planned. One day especially was just a doozy. There was a lot of traffic on the way home from work. AND I forgot to defrost the chicken I wanted to make for dinner. AND I had to pick up one daughter who I thought had a ride home. AND my other daughter wanted “to go study at the library, can I please have dinner right now?” AND I had a headache. Can you see my grumpy face?
I had this whole orange chicken thing planned with spicy sweet potatoes and sautéed spinach. Sounds nice, right? Well, the chicken was frozen solid and I had no time to roast sweet potatoes. You know what cooks really fast? White rice. I know, it has nothing going for it. A totally devoid food, nutritionally-speaking. However, white rice is a bit easier to digest than brown and as the well-respected nutritionist Linda Prout claims, you can close the nutritional gap with white rice by eating a few extra forkfuls of spinach. And did I mention my headache? Sold! White rice it is! And with some doctored up black beans out of a (BPA-free can), I would figure something else out so that I wouldn’t need to get take-out.
It’s not that I am completely opposed to take-out once in a while. But where I live, there really aren’t too many good take-out options and what is decent is so expensive. Even with a headache, it doesn’t make me happy to spend $80 on dinner for the five of us when I know I can make something good for under $20. And the meal I put together on this particular night probably cost me under $10. For the five us. And I didn’t have the guilt of throwing away a hundred plastic to-go boxes and bags.
One fast-food restaurant that my family likes is Chipotle, which we never get here at the beach, but I always google when I am traveling for a soccer tournament with Mr. Picky and I’m in the middle of who-knows-where. We all love rice and beans, especially the kids and Chipotle has a yummy cilantro rice that I thought would be perfect with beans and some quick veggies. It ended up being a really satisfying, nutritious and easy meal that the kids asked me to make again. I’ve noticed that anytime the kids get to “assemble” their own dinner, they are very pleased. I put out the cilantro-lime rice, black beans, two fresh salsas that I purchased at the farmer’s market, my cheater guacamole, leftover grilled asparagus and some quick-roasted carrots. Everyone except Mr. Picky made deconstructed burrito bowls which were DELICIOUS. He, of course, can’t have have different food groups touch each other, so 4 bowls and 1 plate, please.
I know a few of you will frown at my white rice, but I also believe in keeping it real. The internet and social media allow people to show the side of themselves that they want to be shown, which is usually only what is positive and perfect and sometimes unrealistic. It can be a bit daunting to think that the grass is always greener on the other side or that every food blogger can seamlessly put together a visually perfect, well-balanced, delicious meal every night. That is certainly not me and I can’t say that I aspire to that level of competence. But rather I hope that whatever curveball life throws me whether it’s in the kitchen or out, I will find a way to roll with it and not worry about the fiber content.
1 cup long-grain rice or basmati rice, brown or white
2 cups water
2 teaspoons unrefined olive oil, coconut oil or unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
juice of ½ lime
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (chop, then measure)
2 teaspoons unrefined olive oil
If you have time, soak the rice in a bowl with lots of water to cover. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1-8 hours. Drain. If you're not sure why you should soak your rice, read this post on arsenic and rice.
In a small saucepan, add drained rice, 2 cups water, 2 teaspoons oil or butter, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes for white rice or 45 minutes for brown rice. (If you didn’t have a chance to soak your rice, cook another few minutes.) Turn off the heat and allow to sit covered for an additional 5 minutes.
In your serving bowl, combine lime juice, cilantro, remaining 2 teaspoons oil and cooked rice. Toss to combine.
I traditionally teach a Mexican-inspired menu during the month of April so that my students have some fun recipes to cook for their family and friends on Cinco de Mayo. I am obsessed with Mexican food, so I really look forward to this time of year. Of course, April has come to an end and sadly, so will my daily fish tacos. I wish it were Cinco de Mayo every month!
I usually have no problem coming up with an entree for a Mexican-inspired meal, but sometimes the sides stump me. Here’s a winner for Cinco de Mayo or any night. This green rice was originally inspired by a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I’ve simplified the recipe a bit, but it is still unbelievably tasty and reminiscent of the green rice you may have had at a Mexican restaurant. The color is pretty subtle, unlike the the spinach risotto recipe I posted last month, but green enough that no one will know if you made it with brown rice or white. Pretty tricky!
There are so many things to love about this green rice. For one, it’s delicious! I adore basmati rice, which I think naturally tastes better than almost all other rices. But in my opinion it’s hard to beat rice with garlic, butter and salt. The flavor from the onions, pepper and cilantro are just a nice bonus. Green rice is also very versatile. Besides being the perfect side dish to fajitas, tacos or Mexican beans, this rice can easily be made into a vegetarian entree with the addition of some cooked pinto beans or sliced almonds. Combined with some protein, green rice makes a perfect school lunch. On the weekends, I’ll use leftovers in a burrito with beans. Yum! This recipe is also easy. Don’t let the blender discourage you. Think of it as a friend who will chop your cilantro and spinach into the bittiest pieces so you don’t have to. Last but not least, whole grain brown rice with spinach, herbs and garlic — are good for you!
If you have eaters in the house who are green-averse, see if they’ll be more inclined to eat the rice with corn tortilla chips crumbled on top. If not, add it to chicken and avocado soup, vegetable chili or freeze it for a rainy day. Of course, you can do what I do and eat it for breakfast with some eggs and guacamole!
Author: Pamela, inspired by Sunday Supper at Lucques
½ heaping cup cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
1 cup tightly packed baby spinach leaves (stemmed if larger)
2 ¾ cups water, chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 Tablespoon unrefined extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ cups long-grain brown basmati rice*
¼ cup green onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Poblano chili, stem and seeds discarded, diced (or if you have time, roasted, skin peeled, diced) or 1 green bell pepper, diced
Put the cilantro, spinach, and 1 ¼ cups of water in a blender and blend until pureed. Add the remaining 1 ½ cups of water and salt and blend until well combined.
In a medium (3 qt) heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil and butter over medium heat. When butter is melted, add the rice and sauté, stirring about every 30 seconds, until it just begins to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and chili and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the contents of the blender, stir well, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 50 minutes. Fluff with a fork, cover, and cook another 5 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and let the rice steam in the covered pot for 10 minutes or until you are ready to serve.
If you use white rice, reduce cook time to 20 minutes.