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Nutty, hearty brown rice is easily a building block to multiple flavorful dishes, which is why it rarely fails to appear on my lunch or dinner menu at least once a week. With a pot of cooked brown rice on hand and a few basic ingredients, anyone can create a delicious healthy meal in about five minutes. These brown rice bowls are also perfect to pack for lunch, as they taste great eaten at room temperature.
Basic Brown Rice Recipe
Soaking brown rice overnight helps increase nutrient absorption. It also results in a softer texture that absorbs flavors well. But if you forget to soak your rice, just increase the cooking water to 2 cups.
1 cup short-grain brown rice, soaked overnight in 3 cups water
1¾ cup water
Large pinch sea salt
Drain rice and add it to a small (2-quart) pot and fill with fresh water. Swish rice around with your fingers and pour off water, catching grains in a strainer. Repeat. Return rice to pot and add water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.
Brown Rice Bowls, Three Ways
Each serves 1
1. Brown Rice and Lemon-Marinated Kale Bowl with Avocado
I find these simple toppings best when the rice is served slightly warm (either freshly cooked or reheated in a steamer basket).
Combine 1 cup thinly sliced kale with 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cold-pressed flax oil and a pinch of salt. Massage the kale until it wilts. Place ½ cup brown rice in a bowl and drizzle with ½ teaspoon tamari, 1 teaspoon flax oil and 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds. Top with marinated kale and sliced avocado.
2. Harissa Brown Rice Bowl with Carrot and Feta
Make this when you’re in the mood for something with a spicy kick. Harissa is a chile paste made with garlic and olive oil. Since its heat can be intense, choose a paste that also contains sun-dried tomatoes, which will help temper the chiles. The sweetness of the carrot and the briny flavor of the olives and feta pair perfectly with the zesty brown rice.
Combine ½ cup room temperature or warm rice with 1 tablespoon harissa paste and stir to combine. Slice 1 medium carrot into ¼-inch slices and steam for 2 minutes or until tender. Add to brown rice along with ¼ cup chopped parsley and stir to combine. Top with a crumble of feta and a couple of chopped olives.
3. Herbed Chickpea Brown Rice Bowl
The combination of chickpeas, herbs and brown rice seasoned with rice vinegar makes a perfect quick and tasty meal in any season. Make it with extra-virgin olive oil or cold-pressed flax oil.
Combine ½ cup brown rice, ½ cup cooked chickpeas, 1 teaspoon brown-rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon tamari, 2 teaspoons oil, 1 tablespoon sliced scallion, 1 tablespoon each chopped parsley and fresh dill; stir to combine.
Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.
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