Monday, October 31, 2011

Dressing Up Rice

by Kelley Lindberg

Rice. White rice, brown rice, Spanish rice. Okay, that pretty much covers my repertoire of rice cookery.

Apparently I’ve been a little restricted in my thinking.

A friend sent me this link to an article in The Atlantic, “The Rice Principle: A Reminder That We Share Similar Appetites,” and it made me realize that there’s a lot more to love about rice than I realized.

Especially for people with gluten or wheat allergies, rice quickly becomes a staple – but how can we dress it up so that it’s not always the same old thing? Food fatigue can be such a problem, even for people without food allergies (I run out of dinner ideas by Tuesday every week), and it’s an even bigger problem when you’re restricted in the foods you can eat.

This article, by chef Tamar Adler, rattles off an amazing number of ideas for jazzing up rice with simple, easy-to-find and easy-to-cook ingredients – of course, some of her ingredients are common allergens like egg or nuts, but by the end of the article, I was convinced that rice dishes are infinitely flexible, totally forgiving, and worth a second look. She even includes a recipe for Rice and Lettuce Soup. Really? Really! And she makes it sound good!

With a few easy substitutions, like using safe margarine or olive oil instead of real butter, her on-the-fly recipes sound like they’ll come together quickly even on a busy school night. And since rice is one of those foods that most kids like, that’s a plus.

The author offers several methods for cooking rice, and takes us on a quick trip around the world with her story – from Asia to Italy and several places in between. And even though she covers a lot of territory, she doesn’t even mention Spanish paella or Cajun-country jambalaya, both of which are filling dishes that let you toss in whatever veggies and meats you have on hand, regardless of what the recipe might actually call for. (Can’t eat shrimp? Toss in chopped chicken instead!) And don’t forget Greek Lemon Rice Pilaf (search for a vegetarian version if you can’t have chicken broth). 

So if rice is on your list of safe foods, check out her article, and like me, maybe it will help you start thinking outside the Minute Rice box.

And if you have a great rice-based recipe, share it with us in the Comments section!

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