Category Archives: Rice and Grains

Ginger Carrot Fried Rice

Continuing in my mission of bringing our backyard eggs into the main course, I took a stab at taking fried rice up a notch.

I’ve always found the term, “fried rice” to be a bit misleading. Maybe somebody, somewhere really FRIES the rice, but it’s really more a matter of mixing rice with some  vegetables, scrambled eggs and a few other key ingredients.

Back in the day, fried rice was our go-to for leftover pork. Now, we are relying a lot more on vegetables and eggs and everyone (including the planet and the pigs) is a lot happier.

There’s nothing complicated about this dish. Any combination of scrambled eggs, chopped and sautéed or steamed vegetables, soy sauce, maybe some grated ginger and green onions tends to end up rather tasty. This week,  I went for a hefty dose of chopped ginger — allowing for ginger to take center stage. I also wanted this to be more about the vegetables and the color — and less about the rice, so I added lots of carrots and green onions.

And since I’ve never known almonds to be anything but a welcome addition, I tossed in some lightly roasted almonds at the end. Slivered is what we had and I ended up mixing them in. Next time, I’ll go with sliced and sprinkle them on top.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 6-8 green onions
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped or minced fresh ginger
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds lightly toasted

Directions

  • In a large sauce pan, add 1 cup of rinsed brown rice to 3 cups of water or stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed. (About 25 minutes.)
  • While the rice is cooking, peel and chop 3-4 carrots (enough for 2 cups). Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large saute pan and add carrots. Chop green onions. Set aside the green part and add the chopped white part to the carrots in the saute pan.  Chop or mince 2 heaping Tbsp. of ginger and add to carrots and onions. Remove from heat once l carrots are al dente — slightly cooked, but not soft.
  • Beat eggs along with 1 Tbsp. of  soy sauce. Coat a medium-sized saute pan with non stick spray, and pour egg mixture into heated pan. Cook egg mixture omelette style (vs. scrambling the eggs). Once eggs are cooked through, remove to a plate and slice into small strips.
  • Add 1/2 cup of almonds to a small saute pan on medium heat. Toss in a dry pan for 5-6 minutes, being careful not to let the almonds burn.
  • Once rice is tender and all water is absorbed, combine rice, sautéed vegetables, eggs and soy sauce to taste in a large serving bowl. Stir in green onions and top with toasted almonds.
  • Serve immediately.

Greek Week Superfood Recap

A very shallow dive into the Mediterranean Diet over the past week or so revealed that it does not require knowledge of the fish that swim in the Mediterranean Sea or the produce that grows near the shores of Alexandria or Morocco. That’s a good thing, because I did a little Google search on the fish that swim in the Mediterranean and found neither tuna nor salmon. What I did find was a very long list that included the Monrovia Doctor Fish, the Mediterranean Sand Eel, the Highfin Lizardfish and the Blackmouth Splitin — all of which sound scary and none of which are available at a fish counter in Austin.

Last week was indeed a big week for learning. After writing about some of my favorite foods, I’ve learned, once and for all how to spell tzatziki and spanakopita. So I’ve got that going for me.

Best as I can figure, aside from the absolute requirement of olive oil (cold pressed extra virgin) the Mediterranean Diet is fairly open ended, and just calls for a diet that’s centered around

  • Nuts, legumes and seeds,
  • Whole grains,
  • Fruits and vegetables,
  • Fish, and of course,
  • OLIVE OIL!

It seems a given that we also need to add to the list: LOTS OF GARLIC.

Here’s a list of the recipes that I had fun with over the past week or so, along with a few other recent posts that appear worthy of inclusion in the Mediterranean Diet.

 Quinoa Burgers (or Patties) with Tzatziki

Delicious on a salad or as a burger: quinoa with tzatziki
Delicious on a salad or as a burger: quinoa with tzatziki

 Walnut, Feta and Grape Salad

When purple grapes stand in for kalamata olives, a Greek salad takes on a whole new vibe
When purple grapes stand in for kalamata olives, a Greek salad takes on a whole new vibe

A Salad Nicoise Variation

 

A salad where simple ingredients all sit distinct in their own little corner is a very appealing concept --especially among kids.
A salad where simple ingredients all sit distinct in their own little corner is a very appealing concept –especially among kids.

An Olive Oil, Parsley and Garlic Spread

 

Garlic, Parsley, Olive Oil and a little salt: More flavor per square cm. than almost any spread out there.
Garlic, parsley, olive oil and a little salt: More flavor per square cm. than almost any spread out there.

 A Lentil, Rice and Vegetable Salad

A lentil recipe that's fresh and colorful -- versus the all-too-often stodgy status of the lentil
A lentil recipe that’s fresh and colorful — versus the all-too-often stodgy status of the lentil

A Phyllo-Free Spanakopita with Kale

Lighter than a quiche and packed with not just any dark, leavy greens -- but Kale, the king of the greens..
Lighter than a quiche and packed with not just any dark, leavy greens — but Kale, the king of the greens..

 A Citrusy Variation on Rice Pilaf

A Zesty Rice Pilaf with Orange Zest, Raisins, Green Onions, and Almonds
A Zesty Rice Pilaf with Orange Zest, Raisins, Green Onions, and Almonds

A Spinach Salad with Strawberries and an Orange Vinaigrette

 

A festive and refreshing strawberry and spinach salad with red onions and feta.
A festive and refreshing strawberry and spinach salad with red onions and feta.

A  Tomato Soup with Fresh Herbs

 

A hearty blend of tomatoes, vegetables and herbs in a soup that takes the basic tomato up a notch.
A hearty blend of tomatoes, vegetables and herbs in a soup that takes the basic tomato up a notch.

A Pasta Salad of Tuna, Kalamata, Olives and Feta

 

A salad to jump start your Mediteranean diet
The entire Mediteranean diet in one salad: fish, feta, olives, olive oil, tomatoes, greens

A Roasted Salmon over Greens and Roasted Vegetables

Elegant and easy salmon with roasted vegetables
A colorful, crowd-pleasing and easy mix of salmon and vegetables

 

 

 

Quinoa Quinoa Quinoa

That’s the answer to the question: “What are the three most important grains to have on the shelf when vegetarians are in the house.” Quinoa is a complete protein, cooks up essentially like rice — two parts water, one part quinoa — is lighter and tastier than rice, and is wildly versatile.

Tzatziki Sauce optional! quinoa patties can stand on their own over a green salad.
Tzatziki Sauce optional! quinoa patties can stand on their own over a green salad.

 

And if anyone is looking for an answer to the question of how or why is a quinoa recipe is appearing during Greek Week, I have a few answers.  Even though this powerful little staple for the Incas is deeply rooted in this continent, Mediterranean Diet guidelines are basically just touting whole grains, and not splitting hairs as to the country of the grain’s origin. Another reason: Sarah forwarded this recipe for Quinoa Patties with Tzatziki Sauce to me from the Ginger Bear Kitchen  site — one of my favorite blogs — and I couldn’t wait to play with it. I cooked the patties in olive oil, which seemed a bit like a variation on felafel and I was tempted to rename this recipe quinoa felafel.  Of course, the tzatziki sauce makes anything Greek, so there’s plenty of reasons why quinoa ends up in Greek Week.

I considered making these patties a bit bigger, and serving them as burgers. Anna said that would be like a grain on a grain. Good point, so I served them over spinach. Since I was only cooking for two, there was lots of leftover batter — and the next day I made quinoa burgers with avocado, lettuce and red onion, and it was the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.

Ingredients

Quinoa Patties

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 slices of whole wheat bread, toasted and zapped in the food processor to form breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Non stick cooking spray

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 1/4 cups plain, Greek yogurt
  • 1 whole cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • Juice from one, whole lemon
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Quinoa Patties

  • Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  • Saute onions, garlic, red and green pepper and spinach in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil until vegetables are soft — about 5 minutes. Add cumin salt and pepper.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa and eggs. Add sauteed vegetables, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
  • Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, and add remaining  3 Tbsp. olive oil. Heat pan to medium high. Form balls of 1/4 cup of the quinoa batter and very gently press into pan to make patties that are about 1 inch thick. Allow patties to cook for  3-5 minutes in order to firm up  a bit before attempting to flip. When crispy and slightly browned, flip gently. Cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Serve with Tzatziki sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until thoroughly blended.

 

Greek Week: 7 Days of Mediterranean Recipes

I had thought  it was a well-established fact that the Mediterranean Diet was the gold standard. When the recent, and this time definitive, study confirmed that the Mediterranean diet really, really was the way to go, I was thrilled for the affirmation that I’ve been doing something right. I like to think of food as the solution, not the problem, and suddenly we had PhD’s analyzing data and telling us that olive oil, humus, garlic, parsley, almonds and feta cheese were like the fountain of youth. Awesome.

So now that the soup and stew season is officially over, I started this week thinking about summer salads, summer vegetables and some tasty ideas for the long, hot months ahead. That prompted what I’m calling Greek Week, and the posting of 7+ new recipes that fit comfortably within the realm of the Mediterranean Diet. Leading the list is a lentil salad. While I love lentil soup, I might love cold, peppery lentils even more as the basis for a lemony/garlicky salad, along with brown rice or quinoa, and a lot of fresh vegetables and herbs. We had this dish tonight as a main course, actually our only course, and it could be a highly popular side dish or salad at a summer table or event.

Lentil Rice Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 cup uncooked lentils
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (about 3 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2  cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Directions

  • Add 1 cup of brown rice to 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and continue cooking  until liquid is absorbed. (About 30 minutes).
  • Combine 1 cup of uncooked lentils and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and continue cooking until liquid is absorbed. (About 20 minutes).
  • In a large bowl, combine chopped carrots, celery, green onions, parsley and Kalamata olives.
  • To make dressing, combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Set aside.
  • Add cooked lentils and rice to the vegetables. Toss with dressing.
  • Top with slivered almonds prior to serving.

 

Zesty Rice Pilaf

Now there’s  a word that you don’t hear much these days. If Zesty Rice Pilaf calls to mind a recipe that you might find in a Church Ladies Cookbook circa 1965, be assured that cream of mushroom soup is not called for here and nothing is going into a Jello mold. Lately, when in doubt, I zest an orange, and my recent pilaf adventure was no exception.  The result, I’m happy to report, is that one of my faves shot up a notch.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Directions

  • Combine 1 cup uncooked brown rice and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed. (About 25 minutes)
  • Transfer cooked rice to a serving bowl, and add raisins, green onions, orange zest and orange juice. Stir.
  • Add almonds, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir again, garnish with an orange slice and serve.