Good to the Last Grain
Most of us love rice. In fact, I've rarely heard someone say they dislike it, with the exception of a few who constantly starve themselves on no- carb diets. This is my second article on this grain in a few years. Rice is popular the world over for many reasons. The primary factor is that it's cheap and swells while cooking to feed many. It's filling and great to accompany dishes with sauces to absorb the liquid goodness. People have preferences too: some like their rice to be “shelly” with a bite, others chewy or soft.
Most box lunches and takeout orders include rice, and some restaurants, especially those of an Asian persuasion, offer rice as a complimentary side dish. What would our cuisine be without our beloved rice and peas, and what is a good curry goat without some steaming white rice beside it? Naturally, we can get tired of eating white rice and rice and peas all the time, so let's try some alternative rice dishes from time to time, especially since it's summer.
Jazz up your white rice with spices and herbs. Use your leftover brown or white rice to make a cold rice salad which is perfect for the hot weather we are experiencing. Simply add some cold green vegetables like beans, broccoli or bak choy, some sliced mushrooms, baby corn or leftover room-temperature roast vegetables for a filling lunch alternative with some deseeded and chopped tomatoes and cucumbers. Dress with either a light vinaigrette or creamy dressing and serve on a bed of lettuce leaves.
Rice comes in many varieties like the Italian Arborio or Carnaroli which is the base for risotto; I used the former in today's recipe as it is readily available on Jamaican supermarket shelves these days. Spanish Bomba or Calasparra used for paella are great for easy and delicious one-pot meals. Would Japanese sushi be so popular without that lovely sticky rice which pairs so well with the fresh raw fish, pickled ginger and fiery wasabi? In Caribbean Spanish-speaking countries, chicken and rice is a famous combination. Many national meals such as the Brazilian feijoida, which features black beans and pork, are paired with rice.
There are literally over a hundred varieties of rice which range in colour from black to brown to red to white. Some types of rice are long-grained, others short. Cooking times vary depending on the rice; a few have distinct aromas and fragrances. Some of the most popular include Thai Jasmine, Indian Basmati, Forbidden rice from China, which is black rice, and long grain white rice which is grown in Guyana and the United States. Nowadays you see many local supermarkets stocking exotic varieties. Try some today and get your palate exploring the world of rice!
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Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon
readers know that I have a love for pumpkin and cannot count the number
of pumpkin recipes I have submitted! Pumpkin is both familiar to
Jamaicans and inexpensive, so people are always seeking different ways
to prepare it. Many love pumpkin rice, so try this Italian alternative.
Vegetarians can omit the bacon. Meat lovers, sausage is also a nice
substitute for the bacon. This one-pot meal is fantastic paired with a
simple mixed green salad and delicious with a glass of white wine. A
nice and easy summer meal to share with familyit's filling without being
too heavy. I love making risottos because as I stir with my trusted old
wooden spoon, it gives me time to think or destress.