Got rice? Well, you've got dinner. Options, that is. We've got three ways to cook the rice you have hiding in the cupboard -- in an hour or less -- along with a bunch of other easy dinner recipes.
Love bacon? This velvety risotto incorporates the deep flavor of applewood-smoked bacon with arborio rice cooked to perfectly creamy consistency. Fresh-chopped chives and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano lend bright color and subtle tang, and a fresh egg yolk is nestled into each hot portion right before serving for added richness. Look no further, this is pure comfort in a bowl -- and it's dinner in less than an hour!
I you're craving a salad, rice salad takes a colorful turn with cooked small shrimp, fresh arugula, tomatoes, minced red onion and toasted pine nuts. The whole dish comes together in about 45 minutes.
Basically nothing more than rice cooked in a lot of water until it has a softened, almost porridge-like consistency, congee is a simple meal to fix and an excellent way to use up other leftovers in the kitchen. Flavor the dish with whatever you have on hand -- garlic, vegetables, meat or fish, spices, even nuts -- turning it into a meal fit for any time of day.
For more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below, or email me at email@example.com.
APPLEWOOD-SMOKED BACON AND FARM-FRESH EGG RISOTTO
Total time: 40 minutes
Note: Adapted from a recipe by chef Jamie West of Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Arborio rice can be found at well-stocked supermarkets, cooking stores and Italian markets. Applewood-smoked bacon can be found at most well-stocked markets.
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
5 strips bacon, preferably applewood-smoked, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped chives
Freshly ground black pepper
4 egg yolks
1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low to keep the broth warm.
2. Meanwhile, in a 4-quart heavy pot over medium heat, cook the onion in the butter until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, garlic and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in one-half cup warm broth and continue to cook the rice at a simmer until the broth is absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue to add the broth, one-half cup at a time, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is creamy-looking but still slightly chewy, 18 to 20 minutes (you should have leftover broth).
4. Stir in the cheese and chives, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Immediately divide the risotto among 4 warmed plates, and make an indentation in each mound of risotto for a yolk. Place a yolk in the center of each mound and serve immediately.
Each serving: 302 calories; 12 grams protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 14 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 225 mg. cholesterol; 1,121 mg. sodium.
RICE SALAD WITH SHRIMP AND ARUGULA
Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8
2 cups medium-grain rice, such as Arborio
3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1/2 pound cooked small shrimp (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 cup diced tomato
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups torn arugula, loosely packed
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1. Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a rolling boil. Stir in the rice and return the water to a boil; reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer. Cook until the rice is tender, 15 minutes. Drain the rice in a strainer and rinse quickly in cool running water. Line a large mixing bowl with a tea towel and empty the rice into it. Fold the tea towel over the top of the rice and set aside to cool, about 5 minutes.
2. When the rice has cooled slightly, add the olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and salt to taste, stirring lightly with a fork to avoid crushing the tender rice grains. (The rice can be prepared to this point a day ahead and refrigerated in a tightly covered container. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
3. When almost ready to serve, combine the shrimp, red onion and tomato in a medium bowl and season with red wine vinegar and one-fourth teaspoon salt, or to taste.
4. Add the shrimp mixture to the rice along with the arugula and pine nuts. Stir to combine well, taste and add more salt or lemon juice if necessary. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 30 minutes in advance.)
5. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve at room temperature.
Each of 8 servings: 300 calories; 10 grams protein; 45 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 8 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 55 mg. cholesterol; 139 mg. sodium.
BASIC RICE CONGEE
Total time: About 1 hour
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from "The Seductions of Rice" by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. They write, "Some people like their congee thin, with the rice grains cooked until broken and somewhat shapeless. We prefer it the consistency of a thick soup, with the rice grains intact. You can adjust the consistency by adding extra water. The list of accompaniments given here is meant as a guideline. Sprinkle them on top of your congee or stir them in; feel free to add other textures and flavors to the array of garnishes and condiments you set out on the table."
8 cups water, plus extra boiling water as necessary
1 1/2 cups whole or broken long-grain rice (Thai jasmine or Chinese- or American-grown long-grain; not basmati or any parboiled rice)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
7 to 10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 pound lean ground pork
1/4 cup lightly dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 red cayenne or other medium-hot fresh chile, finely chopped
3 to 4 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup Chinese pickled vegetables, finely chopped (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice and stir gently until the water returns to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle boil, add one-half teaspoon salt and continue to cook for 15 minutes. The rice should be cooked but still firm. Remove from heat and set aside, uncovered, for 15 minutes, up to an hour. The rice will continue to soften and absorb water as it sits. (If you want the grains very soft and broken, use a little more boiling water and boil for 30 minutes rather than 15.)
2. While the rice is cooking, heat a skillet or wok over medium heat until hot. Add the oil, and when it is hot, add the garlic and stir-fry until it begins to color. Add the ground pork and one-quarter teaspoon salt and stir until the pork is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, place in a bowl and set aside.
3. Place the garnishes (roasted peanuts, chopped chiles, chopped green onion, cilantro and pickled vegetables) in small bowls or in separate piles on a platter.
4. Just before serving, stir the cooked rice gently. If you find the congee too thick, add boiling water one-half cup at a time to achieve the desired consistency. Transfer to a serving bowl. Ladle the hot congee into individual soup bowls at the table.
5. Place the bowl of sauteed pork and garlic on the table, along with a small bowl of soy sauce, salt and pepper, and the platter or bowls of other accompaniments so that the guests can help themselves as they please.
Each of 6 servings: 282 calories; 9 grams protein; 45 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 7 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 10 mg. cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 306 mg. sodium.
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