Quick and Easy Rice Meal

We all have those “go to” recipes for quick and easy meals which can be made with a minimum of pots and a healthy variety of ingredients. For me, that includes a number of dishes but my favorite is always rice mixed with veggies and/or proteins. Any rice will do but the best for me is quick and easy boil-in-bag brown rice – you can’t get much easier than that but it is just a beginning.

 

You can really use any rice you like but the nutty, chewy taste and texture of brown rice, along with its re-puted healthiness compared to other varieties, makes it superior for me. Depending on how much or how many people you are serving, use one or two of the boil-in-bag pouches. Cook them using the product’s directions in salted water. Since you will be adding the rice to a hot stir fry, you might want to stop cooking the rice a few minutes earlier than directed but I have found that brown rice is quite sturdy and will not be harmed by “over-cooking.”

 

Set your rice aside and prepare your other ingredients. You can select almost any leftover veggies in your refrigerator, frozen vegetables or fresh ones. Since I am a “hoarder” of leftovers, I often have some of all of these to add to my stir fry skillet after heating up a mixture of butter [or Smart Balance] and light olive oil. Ex-tra virgin olive oil works well too but I personally prefer the lighter oils. Sautee onions, peppers [I prefer the sweet red bell peppers for the color and flavor but any color is fine] and two or more diced garlic cloves until the onions are soft [about five minutes].

 

Now the fun begins. While the onion mixture is cooking, gather whatever other veggies you want to add. In my most recent meal, I used fresh zucchini, some sautéed mushrooms which I had prepared the day before to use [in part] for a mushroom gravy and a half cup of frozen peas and carrots [put these out to thaw when you start to boil your rice or thaw them in the microwave for about 40 seconds]. As you add each new ingredient to your skillet, be sure to salt and pepper them to taste [lightly since this is done multiple times as you add each new ingredient]. I also always add red pepper flakes for a bit of spiciness and heat. Zucchini is another per-sonal favorite and it is usually the last one I add so that it remains firm rather than mushy.

 

Finally, add whatever protein you have on hand. One of my standards is pre-cooked sausage. You can use almost any type sausage but my usual is the diced up, pre-cooked patties made by Jimmie Dean. If you use raw sausage, crumble it up and cook it separately in a small skillet before adding it to your vegetables. Finally, add your cooked rice, dose liberally with low sodium soy sauce and mix thoroughly. After about five minutes, you have a wonderful one skillet meal which can also be made with any other leftover meat in your refrigerator – chicken, pork, ham. beef, or even shrimp.

 

–Dick Funderburke