Every once in a great while you find yourself with leftover rice in the fridge but no craving for a stir-fry. What is one to do?! Why create a soup, of course! Most of my recipes are born out of random ingredients laying around in my fridge, like half a can of tomato paste, a handful of fresh herbs, a glass of wine (the sin!) or in this case, leftover cooked rice. I looked around and saw the leftover rice, some cooked chick peas, a small can of tomato sauce and the squeaky wheels started turning in my head. I happened to be in Puerto Rico at the time and had access to my favorite herb on the planet, culantro (known as recao in Puerto Rico and ngò gai in Vietnam). Though different than its Puerto Rican incarnation, culantro is more fragrant that cilantro, with a pungent aroma and taste. I was able to locate some at a Vietnamese market in Portland labeled as “ngò gai” and “Vietnamese parsley”. I assure you the search is worth it. You can substitute cilantro in this recipe if culantro is not available.
The struggle between preparing a healthy and delicious meal for yourself at home or throwing your hands in the air and going out for food is a challenge most of us face on a regular basis. The latter is often more expensive, time consuming and not as satisfying or nutritious. If you’re like me, you prefer eating at home and cooking your own meals as often as possible yet our friend/enemy ‘time’ doesn’t always allow such a union to come together. I created this recipe on a day I was short on time before heading out for the afternoon. From the moment I started pulling out the ingredients to the moment I sat down to eat exactly forty minutes had passed. The dishes, well, that’s another story.
I had a craving for a simple yet tasty rice with vegetables that could serve as a light dinner. I looked through a few recipes but none appealed to me so I created my own and I am super glad I did because this rice came out fantastic! The annatto powder gives the rice a reddish color and subtle flavoring. Preparing and cooking this dish takes a bit longer than you would expect a light dinner or side dish to take but I promise it’s well worth it.
Vegetable Rice Pilaf
2 cups of long grain white rice, rinsed thoroughly and drained well
1/4 cup Earth Balance
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks of celery, minced
1 med onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, seeds and stems removed, minced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup diced baby carrots (about 10)
4 cups of vegetable stock (substitute water if necessary)
1 tsp annato powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1. Heat earth balance and olive oil in a large heavy rice pot on medium high heat
2. Add rinsed rice and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until it lightly begins to brown
3. Add minced onion, garlic, celery and jalapeño mixture (I used my small food processor) and cook with rice for 5 minutes, stirring often.
4. Add baby carrots and stir for 3-5 minutes. Add peas and corn and mix well.
5. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed. Do not over stir once liquid has been added.
6. Brings contents to a light boil, stir one last time, lower heat to medium low and cover tightly for 25 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Do not stir or lift lid while rice is cooking.
7. Lift lid, stir contents and remove from heat.
8. Cover for an additional 5 minutes and then serve.
Prep and Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
I created this recipe on Cinco de Mayo to serve with refried beans, fresh salsa and corn chips. Ok, and margaritas. The result was delicious goodness. This recipe is easy to throw together as a great side dish or main course.
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of earth balance
2 cups of long grain rice, thoroughly rinsed until water runs clear
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeds and stems removed, minced
1/2 red pepper, diced
I 14.5 can of whole tomatoes, pureed or 1 14.5 can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 1/2 cups of vegetable broth or water
1 tbsp of ground cumin
1 tbsp of sea salt
1. Heat earth balance and olive oil in a large heavy cast iron pot over medium high heat.
2. Add rice and stir constantly until it begins to brown.
3. Add onions and garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add jalapeño and red pepper and stir 2-3 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes and stir for 2-3 minutes.
6. Add water or broth, fresh cilantro, cumin and sea salt. Stir well, reduce heat to medium low and cover with a slight air escape. Do not stir rice again until all the water is absorbed (about 20-30 minutes).
7. Once water is absorbed, uncover, stir and cook 5 more minutes uncovered, until fluffy.
Note: You can add other ingredients to this recipe for a more complete meal such as corn kernels or cooked beans (I’m a fan of adding chick peas) right before adding the broth/water. You may want to adjust the seasonings to compensate for the new ingredients.
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-40 Minutes