According to The Rice Association, “There are more than 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice (the grass species Oryza sativa) said to exist. But the exact figure is uncertain. Over 90,000 samples of cultivated rice and wild species are stored at the International Rice Gene Bank and these are used by researchers all over the world.” I like rice as a side dish and enjoy its many varieties from Carnaroli to long grain brown rice. Rice can be a daunting task for some to cook at home, whether that’s white rice, brown rice, or any of the many varieties most supermarkets carry today. I think it’s rather easy to cook rice, my usual rule of thumb is one-part rice to two-parts water by volume, a little salt and some fat (butter, olive oil, sesame oil, etc.). Stir this together, bring to a boil, lower to a bare simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed. Then let the rice rest for several minutes before serving. Brown rice requires a bit more water, however, the cooking method doesn’t change.
I love brown rice. There’s an almost nutty taste to it, plus the added benefit of it being a wholegrain. Additionally, its texture is chewier than white rice and there are many nutritional benefits. According to WebMD, brown rice is part of their “12 Super Foods for New Moms.” They report, “Foods like brown rice provide your body the calories it needs to make the best-quality milk for your baby.”
On a warm summer afternoon, I was looking for something healthy, that wasn’t just another salad. I developed this recipe for brown rice cakes with oil cured olives and fresh herbs. I topped them with an arugula salad and some fresh cherry tomatoes tossed in a lemon-tahini vinaigrette, however, these would be ideal as a side dish for barbequed chicken, or a hearty steak.
1 cup brown rice
2 ½ cups water
½ teaspoon salt
10 basil leaves
10 oregano leaves
¼ cup pitted, chopped oil cured olives
2 green onions, very thinly sliced
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Stir together brown rice, water and salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to a slow simmer, cover, and cook until rice is very tender and all the water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, roll together the basil and oregano leaves on a cutting board. Slice through the roll creating very fine ribbons of herbs.
Stir herbs, olives, green onions, parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper into rice to create a very sticky mass. Shape rice mixture into balls using a ½-cup ice cream scoop; shape these into cakes about 3 inches wide and ½ inch thick.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook rice cakes in hot oil until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes per side.
Serve immediately, topped with salad greens, or serve as a side dish.