Over the past few weeks, in our very own version of “he said, she said”, Jessica and I have debated what constitutes a “Dinner Winner” . For me, a “Dinner Winner” is something that can be made and used across many meals such as a boiled chicken, a pot of rice, or a roast. For Jessica, a “Dinner Winner” is a good tasting, fresh dish that can be made (and served) in 15 minutes from pot to plate. And while each has it merits, it’s hard to say which is the true “Dinner Winner”. So, we’ll keep up this debate, send you a different “Dinner Winner” each week, and let you decide. This week it’s my turn to convince you that cooking across many meals is the winning way to go. To do this I am going to feature one of my favorite “Dinner Winners”: a versatile pot of rice.
There are many ways to cook a perfect pot of rice – depending on the type of rice you use – but there are also many ways for that process to go awry. Here are the steps I follow when making my rice: I generally soak the rice for a few hours before cooking it, which cuts down the necessary cooking time as the rice will have taken up some water in those hours. Once the rice has soaked, rinse and drain it, put it back in the pot and add enough fresh water to cover the rice by at least an inch. When the rice is close to done, drain off any excess liquid to keep it from getting too sticky. Rice can also be baked in the oven for 50 minutes at 350 F, this method works very well for brown rice. Finally, a slow cooker or rice cooker is a nice option for cooking foolproof rice, with very little effort. Follow the directions for water to rice ratio, turn on the cooker, and wait for the finished product. Whatever the method, consider adding a piece of kombu, as I do, for added minerals.
Once I have the rice cooking squared away, I find different ways to combine it for a meal:
- Roast bite-sized vegetables and mix it with the rice sprinkled with parmesan and olive oil for a quick risotto-type dish;
- Add a can of beans and some roasted onion/green pepper for a rice and beans dish.
- Use it as a side to grilled fish, roasted chicken or cooked steak;
- Make a chicken rice soup by cooking some vegetables in the chicken soup and adding the rice for additional fiber;
- Top with low-sodium soy sauce and a sprinkle of seaweed and crushed sesame seeds; and,
- My children’s favorite, finish the rice off with a little milk or cream and top it with fresh fruit compote, or cinnamon, raisins and a little sugar/honey for a quick milk rice.
With rice and a little imagination, the options are endless. Whether you use it all at once, or you stretch the pot of rice over a few days, this is a great Dinner Winner that saves time in my kitchen. Come and cook with us!