Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jeweled Rice

One of my favorite (and simplest) ways to prepare rice is to season it with saffron and scatter green peas throughout.

It's simple, it's delicious, and it looks pretty - bright yellow with bright green.

Speaking of green peas, back when I was growing up, the only English peas I knew came out of a can. My dad grew snow peas in his garden, but those were completely different. Green peas were olive green and mushy. I ate them, but I didn't love them.

Then my mother discovered frozen peas, and my world became a little brighter.

But the big revelation didn't happen until I was living on my own. That's when I realized that frozen green peas didn't actually have to be cooked. I started adding them to salads and stirring them into cooked dishes right at the end so they would get warm but wouldn't cook very much at all.

And that's how I like them in rice. stirred in after the rice is done cooking, so they retain the bright green color and flavor and texture. Sure, they're not the same as fresh English peas, but they're a heck of a lot better than canned peas.

This rice dish starts with the same idea, but adds more. Much more.

The color isn't quite the same as my typical bright yellow rice - first, it's brown rice instead of white, and second I added a good dose of finely chopped dried mushrooms during cooking. As a result, the rice is a deeper yellow rather than a canary yellow.

With the deep yellow rice and the richly colored vegetables, this looks awfully pretty on the plate.

When I looked at the colors, I thought the only one missing was purple. I considered beets, but knew they'd stain the rice. Purple kalamata olives might work, but that's not as bright as the other colors. So, no purple this time.

To add a splash of white, I added some hakurei turnips. They're much sweeter than standard turnips. I like them raw in salads, but this time I cooked them.

When it comes to cooking rice, I used my rice cooker. It's easy, it doesn't heat up the kitchen as much as firing up the stove, and I can toss the rice into the cooker and get forgetful without coming back to a burned pot. If you don't have a rice cooker, of course you can cook the rice on the stove.

Jeweled Rice

3/4 cup Integrale Rice
1 tablespoon finely chopped/ground dry mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
Pinch of saffron
1 cup carrots, large dice
1 cup hakurei turnips, large dice
1/2 large fire-roasted red pepper, cleaned and peeled, large dice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup frozen green peas

Cook the rice in your rice cooker along with the dry mushrooms, salt, sage, and saffron, using the amount of water required for brown rice according to the cooker's directions. Or cook it on the stove, if that's your preference.

Meanwhile, cook the carrots and turnips in boiling salted water until cooked to your desired tenderness. You can cook them in the same pot as long as you cut them into the same-size pieces. Drain the vegetables when they're done.

When the rice is finished cooking, add carrots, turnips, red pepper, butter, and peas. Stir to combine.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt or more butter, if desired.

Serve warm.

This post is for the Integrale Gauntlet contest sponsored by Marx Foods. For the purpose of the contest I received a box of rice for my use in making the recipes.

This is the third post in the three-part contest. The first post for risotto (I made bacon and tomato risotto) is here. The second post for rice pudding (I made rice pudding ice cream) is here.