I’ll show you 4 easy ways to take a mainstay like rice, taste so wonderfully delicious you almost won’t mind eating it as a meal all on its own! If you’re on a budget as many people are these days, one of the ways you’ve probably scaled back is by eating out less and cooking in house, more. If you’re like me and you don’t find cooking to be your forte, this might leave you with the typical rice, beans, a vegetable and a protein, which after a while can become repetitive. You can switch out the proteins, and veggies, but sometimes the best way to add flavor and make your taste buds smile is with the starch. One of the first things that I’ve found will make or break you when it comes making rice is the kind of rice that you choose.
I’ve noticed that Basmati and Jasmine are two of the best when it comes to soaking up flavor. You can find these in both brown and white varieties. While I know that brown rice is better for overall health, I usually choose white rice. Growing up in a very health conscious household when we ate rice, it was brown, and while tasty in many ways, when it comes to flavor retention, I’ve found white Basmati or Jasmine to be the preferred choice for most of my dishes.
These quick, easy and simple recipes work with most types of white rice, but to reiterate, for these recipes I’ve used Basmati or Jasmine which may not be compatible with some rice cookers. If you are in need of a rice cooker to help you with recreating these dishes, then look at RiceCookerWorld for some great appliances!
First step. This is the basic first step that applies to all of the below. It will create 4-6 servings.
In a 3 quart pot, add 2.25 quarts of water and 3 cups of rice. Add 2 tablespoons of butter. From there move on to 1 of any of the 3 recipes below.
Easy Recipe #1 — Puerto Rican Style Rice
I fortunately grew up in an area of Brooklyn that was wonderfully culturally mixed. There were people from all over the Americas and by far, my favorite rice dish, was a delicious one that many of my Puerto Rican friends made. It’s often called Arroz Guisadas. Rice with Pigeon peas.
2 cups of Cilantro – (finely minced)
4 Tablespoons of Sea, Himalayan or Murray River Salt (table salt is fine, but rock or flake salt is best)
2 Tablespoons of Onion Powder or 1 cup of Vidalia Onions finely minced
1-1.5 Cups of Pigeon Peas
2 Cloves of chopped Garlic
1 additional Tablespoon of Butter
1/2 cup of finely minced Recao if you have it. It can be found in Caribbean and Asian grocery stores. If you don’t have it, don’t worry. Your rice will still taste great!
Traditionally this recipe would call for cooked pork fat to add more flavor, but as these are vegetarian versions, no pork fat is needed. However if you’re an omnivore feel free to throw some in.
Put all of the above into the pot. Cover it. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring every 2 or 3 minutes. Add additional water if needed. Once the rice is done, turn the heat off and leave covered for another 5-10 minutes)
Easy Recipe #2 — Sea Island Southern Style Rice
In my family, my father’s side hails from the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina. The people of these islands were originally a rice growing people in the area that includes Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa. They were forcibly brought to the Americas because of this skill, and were made to cultivate rice in the southern United States. Needless to say that in addition to seafood, like many other Southerners, rice is something included in some of their meals as well. Often accompanied with Black eye or Red Kidney beans. This recipe is a nod to the way my grandmother would often make her rice to accompany meals.
Do the first step mentioned above. Prepare your ingredients.
3 Tablespoons of Salt
3 Tablespoons of freshly ground Black Pepper
1 Cup of Scalions
1 Tablespoon of chopped Garlic
1/2 a Cup of Onion (Vidalia or any other mild one will do)
A Tablespoon of Sugar
A Dash of Cinnamon
Add the below to your pot and bring to a boil on medium heat. Stir once during cooking, and keep the top one for 10 minutes once you turn the burner off.
Easy Recipe #3 — Caribbean Style Jerk Rice
Once again, living in the cultural melange of my childhood neighborhood exposed me to wonderfully tantalizing sights and flavors. Here’s a take of the jerk style rice that many of my West Indian friends used to make. They often served it with Jerk Chicken or Fish. I find that it also works great with a nicely grilled or baked Portobello mushroom.
3 Tablespoons of Salt
1 Tablespoon of AllSpice
1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons of Cayenne Pepper
2 Tablespoon of Black Pepper
1 Finely Chopped Hot Pepper (your choice)
1/2 Cup of Honey
Bring water and rice to a boil and and add all of the above. Stir twice during cooking. Check rice after 10 minutes, if it’s nearly done, turn the burner off and leave the top on for 15 minutes before serving. If it’s not done, leave it on the burner for another 5 minutes, and than leave the top on for 10 minutes before serving.
Amazingly easy isn’t it! You can easily add more or less ingredients depending on your personal tastes, but you now have 3 easy ways to cook rice with a ton of flavor!
My favorite veggie to go with rice is Avocado. Here’s a quick Guacamole recipe (and the best you’ve ever tasted) to go along with one of your new favorite rice dishes.
2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
3/4 Cup of Chopped Cilantro
1/2 Cup of a Yellow Onion (your choice)
2 Tablespoons of Scallions
1 Tablespoon of minced Garlic
Add salt to taste