Posts Tagged 'rice'

Rice and Kale Casserole

We had our week of summer and now it’s casserole weather! I have mixed feelings about casseroles. When they’re based on cream-of-whatever soup I definitely am not a fan. When they have rice and vegetables and just the right amount of cheese, though, I love them.

It’s also perfect running weather. Well, I guess around here it is year round, but it’s especially nice running along the ocean right now.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been sticking with my running every other day plan and it’s going really well. I also started doing some pilates and 30 Day Shred on my non-running days.

And of course it’s pumpkin weather. Mike made fun of me for buying 3 huge cans of pumpkin (“Uh, you think you got enough pumpkin?”), but definitely doesn’t seem to mind pumpkin oats for breakfast, pumpkin cookies, or these pumpkin spice latte cupcakes.

Yes, they’re every bit as amazing as my favorite fall beverage.

OK, about the casserole. I used brown rice, which I cook in big batches and keep in the fridge so I can make fried rice whenever the mood strikes. It was great, but I think barley or farro would also work really well. I used dinosaur kale instead of the spinach the recipe called for, and loved it. I also switched out cheddar cheese for Swiss, but I’m sure both would be great. I also loved how the sprinkling of sunflower seeds gives it a nice, healthy crunch.

(adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook)

3 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium bunch dinosaur kale, stemmed and chopped (around 3 cups)
1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp mustard
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup grated Swiss cheese, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish or 13 x 9 pan.

Heat the butter in a deep skillet.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes, or until the onion is soft.  Add the kale, salt and garlic and cook another 6-8 minutes, until kale is wilted and tender.

Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the rice, nutmeg, cayenne, mustard, half the sunflower seeds, eggs, milk, and half the cheese.  Mix well, then pour into casserole dish.

Top with remaining cheese and sunflower seeds.  Bake for about 35 minutes, until beginning to brown on top.

Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

I really, really love Southeast Asia. I’ve been to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and would happily go back, preferably for an extended period of time. I still haven’t been to Indonesia, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to explore some of their food.

I looked at a few different recipes for Nasi Goreng, and even though I’ve never had it I pretty much immediately knew I’d love it (since I adore Thai style fried rice and this didn’t look that different.) It’s incredibly simple – just fry up some garlic and shallot, add the rice, add some vegetables, add some sauce, and top with a fried egg.

The one thing you’ll need to find is Kecap Manis, which is sweet soy sauce (I found it at our Asian grocery store). It pretty much has the consistency of molasses, and is mostly sugar with some soy sauce flavoring. You only need a tablespoon, so it might work to make a sugar syrup and add some soy sauce, but I have no idea what kind of ratios you’d use. I realize that’s extremely helpful.

This isn’t completely authentic because I didn’t use shrimp paste, but this recipe is a great starting point for adding whatever vegetables or protein you may have on hand. Not pictured, but essential (at least according to me) is a ton of chili sauce on top!

(inspired by Epicurious and Simply Delicious)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups day-old cooked rice (I used half brown, half white)
1 1/2 cups chopped vegetables (I used about a cup of broccoli and half a cup of cabbage)
1 Tbsp kecap manis
1 egg per serving, fried
chili sauce (Sambal Oelek or Sriracha – optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for a few minutes, until soft and very fragrant.

Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the vegetables and continue to stir fry until they are cooked. Turn off the heat, add the kecap manis, and mix well.

Divide among bowls and top each serving with a fried egg. Serve with extra kecap manis and chili sauce on the side.

Hoppin’ Rice and Beans

This weekend involved a couple awesome things.  We were back in San Luis Obispo, hanging out with Mike’s family and this ADORABLE dog, Roo:

I used to say I hated small dogs but she is so cute and sweet that I might actually consider a small dog (if it could be a clone of her).

We also had a repeat of our wedding food, catered by the same family that fed our 100 guests 3.5 years ago:

Some people in our family thought we were nuts for having Middle Eastern food at our wedding, but then a lot of them said it was the best wedding food they’d ever had. I’m totally biased, but I agree with them.


AND to top it all off, I’m on Spring Break for the whole week! Plenty of time for running and cooking healthy food. Although I don’t need quick and easy meals this week, I do appreciate them when Mike and I are both working full time, and this recipe is perfect (if you have a rice cooker and slow cooker you can let the beans and rice cook while you’re out and just assemble them for dinner).

This is adapted from a recipe for Hoppin’ John, but I used pintos instead of black eyed peas, and cut the prep time WAY down. The flavor is awesome, and the leftovers are great for lunches.

(adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry)

2 cups cooked pinto beans, drained (canned works too)
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
choppped cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and add the shallots. Cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spices, salt and tomatoes and mix well. Add the rice and beans and cook until heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve, garnished with a little chopped cilantro.

Nem Khao (Lao Crispy Rice Salad)

For some reason I’ve been feeling incredibly nostalgic about our Southeast Asia travels lately, so I’ve been cooking a lot of our favorites from there. I first had this salad in Chiang Mai, and wrote about it here.

Although I’ve read that it’s a Lao dish, I don’t remember seeing it in Laos, but it was pretty common in Chiang Mai and I also had it a few times in Bangkok. I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to making it at home, because I adore it, and it’s actually pretty simple. You just mash up some spices, mix them with rice and form patties, fry them, then crumble them up.

Then you add these ingredients, toss with lime juice and fish sauce, and you’re ready to eat!

A well-stocked Asian grocery store should have everything you need. If you can only find dreid galangal, soak it in very hot water until it is soft before proceeding with the recipe.

(adapted from Chez Pim)

crispy rice patties
1 tbsp galangal, finely chopped
1 fresh red chile, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp lemongrass, finely chopped
3 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
2 cups cooked jasmine rice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tbsp finely sliced shallots
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp julienned fresh ginger
1/3 cup lime juice
4 cup of peanuts
6 dried red chiles (I used chiles de arbol) – use fewer if you don’t like spicy food
2-3 tbsp fish sauce
1 lime, cut into wedges

To make the rice patties:
Combine the galangal, chile, lemongrass, shallots, and garlic, and pound to a smooth paste with a mortar and pestle.
Put the rice in a medium bowl, add the paste, egg, and fish sauce and mix well. Form the rice into 2″ wide, 3/4″ thick patties.
Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium-high, and test a little bit of rice. As soon as you put the rice in the oil, it should begin to bubble right away. When the oil is ready, put in about half the patties, and fry for about 10 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a clean towel while you fry the remaining patties.

To make the salad:
Fry the chiles in the oil you used to cook the rice for about 15 seconds, making sure they don’t burn. Set aside to cool.
Break up the rice patties and place them in a bowl. Add about half the lime juice and the fish sauce. Crumble the fried chiles and add them. Toss in the ginger, shallots, cilantro, and peanuts. Mix well, then taste and add more lime juice and/or fish sauce if needed. Serve in bowls garnished with lime wedges

Kushari (Egyptian Rice and Lentils)

I consider myself decently well-traveled, but I know there are thousands of people out there who’ve been far more places than I’ll ever go. I used to be really competitive about it but now I’m just grateful to have had the opportunity to travel as much as I have. Although I’m not as feverishly collecting passport stamps these days, I still have a long list of places I hope to visit.

One of the places I am still dying to get to is the Middle East. Until that happens, I’ll be okay with cooking from my Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cookbooks, because I keep coming across amazing recipes like this one (and buying a few lentils is definitely cheaper than flying halfway around the world). The tomato sauce alone is absolutely amazing, and when combined with browned onions and mixed with rice and lentils, you end up with a filling, delectable meal.

I had to add quite a bit of water to the rice as it cooked – probably about half a cup. I also noticed too late that a lot of it was sticking to the bottom of the pan, so keep an eye on the level of liquid while the rice and pasta are cooking!

(adapted from The Essential Mediterranean)

1 cup lentils
5 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup fideos pasta (or very thin pasta broken into 1″ piecies)
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 cup medium-grain rice
6 coarsely chopped garlic cloves
2 tsp kosher salt
1 16-ounce can tomato puree
1 or 2 chiles de arbol, crushed (omit if you don’t like spicy food)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
black peppers
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Put the vegetable broth in a large saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil, then add the lentils and turn the heat down to medium. Simmer with the pot partially covered until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 20-45 minutes (depending on the age and type of lentil).

While the lentils are simmering, heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a wide skillet. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, for a few minutes or until evenly golden-brown. Leave as much oil as possible in the pan, but transfer the noodles to a small bowl.

Add the onion slices to the oil and turn the heat down to low. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until they’re very soft and golden (it should take about 45 minutes). When they’re finished, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

After the lentils are done, strain them but reserve the broth. Put it back in the pan, and add the rice. Boil for about 15 minutes, adding water if the pan appears to be getting dry. Stir well, then add the noodles and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Add the lentils and remove from the heat.

To make the tomato sauce, pound the garlic and salt together with a mortar and pestle. Add to the pan the onions were cooked in and heat, stirring, until just golden (don’t let it burn!) Stir in the tomato puree and the crushed chiles and cook over medium until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, some black pepper, the cumin, and cook another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and more salt if necessary.

To serve, put some of the lentil and rice mixture in a bowl, then top with a generous spoonful of tomato sauce and a few of the caramelized onions.

Tuna Gimbap


Anytime I travel somewhere, I tend to latch onto one particular food and eat it far more than anything else, so that inevitably, when I go home, eating that food immediately transports me back. When I visited Norway, it was mussels and smoked salmon (I made sure to eat one or the other, but preferably both, every single day of the trip). In Uganda, it was chapati rolled up with fried egg (mainly because it was more appetizing than goat stew, which always included either jawbones – teeth still intact – or pieces of stomach), and here in Korea, it’s tuna gimbap.

At the ubiquitous Gimbap Heaven franchise (which is open 24 hours and seems to never be more than 3 blocks away, no matter where in the city you are), these rolls are only a couple dollars and keep me full for hours. Although the ones I usually get include some fried egg and mayo, I left them out when making them at home because I wanted to lighten them up a little.

You can make gimbap with just about anything. I’ve seen it with ground beef and processed cheese, which I really don’t get excited about, and with just tuna and vegetables, which I love. If you have trouble finding yellow pickled radish, it can be left out, and if imitation crab meat is not your thing (which is understandable… I’m not sure why I like it and yes I know it’s probably worse for me than hot dogs), omit it! You don’t need one of those fancy sushi rolling mats either… I just made this directly on my cutting board and had no trouble rolling it up.

4 sheets of nori (about 8″ x 8″)
2 cups freshly cooked short grain white rice
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
6 shiso leaves, torn in half
1 can of tuna (packed in water), drained
1 carrot, cut into long, thin strips
1 cucumber, seeded and cut into long, thin strips
4 strips yellow pickled radish
4 long strips ham
a few strips of imitation crab meat

Prepare all ingredients and have them nearby.

Mix the rice with the sesame oil and rice vinegar. Add a little extra oil if the rice seems especially sticky.

Put about half a cup of white rice on a sheet of nori and spread it to a thickness of about 1 cm. I like to use a piece of plastic wrap between my hands and the rice so I don’t end up with a sticky mess. Leave an inch or two of the nori uncovered.


Arrange the shiso leaves on top of the rice.


Sprinkle 1/4 of the tuna over the shiso evenly. You can add a little mayo here if you like.


Line up a few pieces of crab (or Krab)


Add the strips of carrot and ham…


…then cucumber…

…then radish if you can find it (check Asian grocery stores)


Carefully roll it all up
then slice with a sharp knife and enjoy

Kimchi Fried Rice

kimchi fried rice

A few years ago I bought a jar of kimchi and was seriously underwhelmed. I could not see how millions of people could possibly be so in love with spicy fermented cabbage. Was I missing something? I couldn’t even tell if it had gone bad or not, which is never a good sign.

Then I moved here and kimchi was EVERYWHERE. Yes, you run into the occasional person who doesn’t like it, but there are pots of fermenting vegetables on every rooftop in my neighborhood, and I have not had a single meal in a restaurant where a dish of it was not presented on the side. It didn’t take long for me to become completely addicted, and although I’m ashamed to say that I still haven’t tried making my own, I feel like something is missing if I don’t have some with my dinner.

My students are horrified to hear that I buy kimchi at the grocery store, but I just can’t commit to buying a vessel in which to make it, and what if it doesn’t turn out or I give myself food poisoning or I choose a bad recipe? It stresses me out just thinking about it, so for now I’ll stick with buying the oh-so-convenient packages of it from the refrigerator case near the produce section. I realize how ridiculous it is to be this intimidated by a few pounds of cabbage and some red pepper flakes, but it’s just my sad reality.

Note: If you’re vegetarian, inspect the kimchi carefully, because some varieties contain fish. Or be a braver soul than I am and make your own!

kimchi and rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 block tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into thin rectangles
1/2 onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I like a mix of brown and white)
2/3 cup chopped kimchi
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high. Add the tofu in a single layer (cook in batches if necessary) and cook until golden on all sides (toss the pan occasionally).
Add the onion and zucchini and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft.
Add the rice and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the kimchi and soy sauce, and mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes more, then serve.

Masala Chai Arroz con Leche


I was always under the impression that I hated rice pudding until I spent a month in Spain after I graduated from high school. My host mother was an incredibly sweet woman who was thrilled that I was interested in cooking. Even though she worked crazy hours as a nurse and was a devoted mother to three boys, she would take time out of her evenings to show me how to make different things. She never looked at recipes, she just cooked the way her mother had showed her.

One weekend when we were in her family’s village, which was where the entire extended family congregated on weekends to eat for hours, drink lots of red wine, and relax, she and her mother decided to show me how to make arroz con leche.

Nothing more than whole milk, cinnamon, rice, and sugar were transformed over the stove into a luscious, creamy dessert that I ate far too much of, even though we’d been eating virtually nonstop the whole weekend.

Because there are plenty of arroz con leche recipes out there, I wanted to do things a little differently. The spices that go into Masala Chai (a favorite drink whenever we go out for Indian food) seemed like they would work beautifully in arroz con leche. So, I simmered up a batch of that, then proceeded with the typical recipe.

The cloves and cardamom add a warm complexity to the standard cinnamon flavor, and the tea provides an almost smoky element. If you’re not a huge fan of black tea, I’m sure it would still be delicious with just the spices alone.

For masala chai:
(adapted from My Drink Obsession)
4 cinnamon sticks
5 cloves
4 green cardamom pods
2 tbsp sugar
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup whole milk
3 Tbsp loose leaf black tea

For arroz con leche:
1/2 cup short grain rice
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole milk

Start by preparing the masala chai:
Boil the water and milk, then add the spices and sugar. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let sit 10 minutes. Add the tea, bring to a boil, and then simmer 5 minutes.
Pour through a strainer and discard the solids, except for the cinnamon sticks.

To make the arroz con leche, put the tea mixture back into the pan with the cinnamon stic and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and rice, and turn the heat down so the mixture is just simmering. Stir occasionally for about 30 minutes, then stir in the whole milk. Continue simmering until the rice is very soft, about 15 minutes more. Serve warm or chilled.

Agvolemono with Broccoli and Spinach

Agvolemono 1

Try not to let the fact that this soup has two of the world’s most-hated vegetables in it deter you.

Speaking of hating vegetables, that is high on my list of Things I Just Don’t Understand. Vegetables are incredibly healthy, cheap, and can be cooked in so many different ways I just don’t see how anyone could flat-out refuse to eat them. (Also on that list: people who give their children ridiculously spelled variations of common names, the appeal of Ed Hardy T-shirts, and why Premier League football isn’t more popular in the US, just to name a few).

A few days ago I saw a reference to agvolemono soup on some website (I can’t remember which of the 23098 food blogs I read while bored at work it was) and I knew it sounded like something I would like. It’s creamy, lemony soup with rice that doesn’t require any heavy cream or unusual ingredients. The name alone was intriguing enough to send me on a lengthy google search to peruse dozens of different recipes for it.

Essentially, all you do is heat some chicken stock, whip up some eggs (or just yolks, depending who you talk to) with some lemon juice, then stir it all together with some rice. I wanted to pack mine with vegetables though, and broccoli and spinach seemed like they would go nicely with the creaminess and lemon flavor.

And there you have agvolemono with broccoli and spinach!

6 cups chicken broth
2 eggs
juice of 2 lemons
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets

Heat the chicken broth to a simmer.
Whisk the eggs with the lemon juice in a medium bowl.
Whisk 2 cups of the broth into the egg mixture very gradually (you don’t want scrambled eggs!)
Transfer the eggs into the broth and continue stirring.
Stir in the rice and vegetables, heat through, and season with salt to taste.

Agvolemono 2

Rice-stuffed Bell Peppers

stuffed pepper 3

Some vegetables are just crying out to be stuffed. That little groove in celery was clearly designed by some higher power with peanut butter in mind. I can’t look at mushrooms without thinking how much better they would be flipped upside down, stems removed, and filled with a rich savory mixture that preferably includes bacon. I don’t mind eating raw bell peppers, but I like them so much more when they’re filled and baked.

The other day I was remembering the red bell peppers stuffed with quinoa that I made a few months ago, and I realized something was missing from my life. Stuffed peppers. I haven’t found quinoa here yet, but I do have plenty of brown rice and tofu, and I knew that together they could make a few green bell peppers into a satisfying meal.


4 small green bell peppers
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
8 ounces firm tofu, drained of excess water
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used a mixture of brown and white)
1 cup roughly chopped fresh spinach
1 hot red pepper (or jalapeno), chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion (green parts only)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, leaving the stems intact. Discard the seeds and membranes.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic and onion.
Cook until onion is translucent and soft, then add the rice, spinach, hot pepper, and salt.
Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, smash the tofu with your hands until it is a smooth puree. Stir in the rice mixture and green onions and allow to cool slightly. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Place the bell pepper halves in a baking pan and fill each with a few spoonfuls of filling.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the filling is golden brown and the peppers are soft.



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