The Virtues of Rice

by Cindy Sanchez

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Want to have rice as a side dish with dinner? Should it be long, medium or short grain? No matter which type of rice you prefer, rice is healthy. It is:

  • Low in calories, with just 160 calories in a 3/4-cup serving
  • A non-fat food
  • A great source of complex carbohydrates
  • Cholesterol-free
  • Naturally low in sodium

And, the USDA recommended allowance of rice and other grain-based foods is 6 to 11 servings daily.

Long Grain

Long grain rice is just that, long and slender. When cooked, the grains remain separate and fluffy. Long grain rice is great when used as a side dish, main dish or in salad recipes.

Medium Grain

Medium grain rice is plumper and stouter than long grain. And, when cooked, the grains tend to be moister and more tender than long grain rice. Medium grain rice is great when used in desserts (rice pudding), casseroles and oriental stir-fry dishes.

Short Grain

Short grain rice is almost completely round in form. When cooked, the grains usually stick together. This rice is best in puddings and in some stir-fry dishes.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is basically rice where only the hull as been removed. The bran stays intact. When it is polished, parboiled and/or pre-cooked, it becomes white rice. When brown rice is cooked, it is slightly chewy.

Wild Rice

Wild rice, grown in fresh water, is actually not a rice but rather strictly a grain. Cooked wild rice can stay fresh in the refrigerator up to two weeks.

Spanish Rice

6 slices bacon, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tin mushrooms, drained
2 cans canned tomatoes, drained
2 cup "cooked" rice
1 teaspoon salt

Cook bacon until crisp. Remove from pan (set aside), add onions, green pepper and mushrooms to frying pan, saute until tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer gently until heated through. Place in casserole and sprinkle with the crisp bacon. Serves 6.

Orange Blossom Rice Mix

1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Store in an airtight container.

Orange Blossom Rice:

2 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 package Orange Blossom Rice Mix (see above)

In a medium pan, bring the water and butter to a boil. Add the rice mix and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. This rice is delicious with sauteed chicken or fish.

Wild Basmati Pilaf

1/4 cup wild rice
1 15 oz. can Swanson's vegetable broth
3/4 cup brown basmati rice
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

Rinse wild rice and place it in a saucepan with the vegetable broth and 1/2 cup water. Stir to mix, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. At the end of this time, add the basmati rice. Cover and continue cooking until both varieties of rice are tender, about 50 minutes. Heat 1/2-cup water in a large pot or skillet. Add onion and garlic. Cook until all the water has evaporated and browned bits of onion begin to stick to the pan. Add another 1/4-cup water, scrape the pan, and cook until the onions begin to stick again. Repeat this process of adding water and cooking the onions until they are nicely browned. This will take about 15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, celery, and seasonings. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, then add the cooked rice and finely chopped parsley. Cook over low heat, turning gently, until the mixture is very hot. Serves 6.

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