Miso-ginger wild rice with carrots, cabbage, daikon and turnip

New Year’s Day provided us with a freebie day off in the middle of the week.  Besides random household chores, I decided that the best use of this time would be to cook a few dishes that we planned to eat in the coming week so that we buy ourselves time in the evenings for the next few days by having dinner already prepared.  The bigger benefit being that these dishes are ones that get better with time- the kind that soak up dressings, and age with grace.  A soup, some roasted vegetables, a dressed rice dish….

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked wild rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 medium carrots, quartered and sliced thin
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced thin
  • 1 leek, sliced thin
  • 1 3-inch piece daikon, halved and cut into thin strips
  • 1 small purple-top turnip, peeled, halved, and cut into thin half-circles
  • 1 cup thinly cut cabbage
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower (or other mild) oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon barley miso (we found a great 3-year dark handcrafted right in Conway, MA by South River.  Organic too!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions

  • Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium pot, add the rice and return it to a boil
  • Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through, about 50 minutes
  • Meanwhile, bring a large fry pan up to a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil and all of the sesame oil, then toss in the carrots, celery, leek, daikon and turnip and get a nice brown on them.  If they begin to get too dark, turn down the heat and cook them until they’re al dente
  • When the veggies are cooked, add in the cabbage.  It’s cut nice and thin so it should soften up quickly
  • While that’s cooking, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, remaining tablespoon of sunflower oil, ginger, miso and crushed red pepper until blended
  • When the rice is cooked, add it to the pan with the vegetables (or, if you’re out of space in the pan you can do this in a large serving or mixing bowl) and pour in the dressing, stirring to incorporate all ingredients
Miso-ginger wild rice with carrots, cabbage, daikon and turnip

Miso-ginger wild rice with carrots, cabbage, daikon and turnip

Sticky Glazed Shrimp and Broccoli with Brown Rice

This recipe is really well balanced, both in flavor and in nutrition.  I chose to buy uncooked shrimp so that they would not be tough in the finished dish.  Feel free to use precooked, just be sure to add them at the last possible minute so that they heat through, but not overcook.   Also note that if you use a commercial kind of dried apricots which are sweetened then you will have a sweet and sticky sauce.  If you purchase just dried apricots (like the kind in the loose bins at Whole Foods) which are unsweetened, you will have a less sweet sauce and may wish to add some simple syrup, or karo syrup, or even a tablespoon of brown sugar.

Ingredients

4 dried apricots

3/4 cup water, divided

2 tablespoons coconut milk

1 tablespoon tamari

1 clove garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly peeled ginger

1 pound small broccoli florets

3/4 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 cups cooked brown rice

1 tablespoon cooking oil (I used hot sesame oil)

Directions

  • Place the apricots in a small bowl with 1/4 cup boiling water and let soak for half an hour
  • Heat ½ of the oil in a frying pan and lightly toast the sesame seeds
  • Remove the seeds from the pan and set them aside, add the remaining oil, and cook the shrimp until they just orange on the outsides (about a minute per side), then remove from pan and set aside
  • Transfer the apricots and their soaking liquid to a food processor and zip until a paste forms, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally
  • Add the garlic and ginger and pulse
  • With the processor running, add the coconut milk and tamari and process until just combined, then set aside
  • Bring the remaining 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook for 5 minutes
  • Uncover, add shrimp and apricot mixture and stir until shrimp and broccoli are coated. Continue to cook about 3 minutes or until heated through
  • Stir in crushed red pepper
  • Plate over rice and garnish with sesame seeds

This recipe found its inspiration from this Whole Foods Market post.

J

Jasmine rice pudding

Rice pudding can be a great way to use up left-over rice (unless, of course, you’re me and typically cook your grains in a savory meat stock).    It’s a little sweet and a lot creamy and, this version at least, full of a variety of textures.  I particularly like to use Jasmine rice because of its fragrant floral notes, but really you can use any grain that you like- be it white, brown, or purple.  If you use something other than jasmine rice, I would suggest adding a splash of pure vanilla extract.

Ingredients:

1 cup jasmine rice

2 cans coconut milk (lite if that’s your preference)

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup raisins and/or currants and/or dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped raw cashews

1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  • Put the jasmine rice and 2 cups of coconut milk in a small sauce pan with the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to low, give the rice one stir to be sure that it’s not suck to the bottom of the pan, cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes
  • Place the cooked rice in a mixing bowl, remove the cinnamon stick, and add the raisins/currants/cranberries, half of the cashews & half of the coconut, and stir
  • If the mixture is dry, add additional coconut milk until it looks creamy
  • Scatter the remaining cashews & coconut over the top of the pudding and either serve warm immediately, or cover and chill overnight

Personally, I think that this dish makes a wonderful dessert but is equally as good as a breakfast.  It also travels well and is easy to make ahead.

J

Southwest Salmon & Black Beans

This dish was the best way that I have ever had salmon prepared.  It’s zesty and flavorful, has a great variety of textures, and is super-healthy.  Grilling the fish avoids stinking heating up the house on these days of 90+ degrees and ridiculous humidity, and it allows it to get a great crisp on.

I can honestly say that I was weary of using all of the herbs called for in the dressing.  I love mint, but I love it in desserts, and sometimes it weirds me out to have it in a savory dish.  Well not this time.  The cilantro, basil and mint meld together and you taste none of them individually, but the combination is smooth and wonderful.  Now if I can only figure out how to use of the remaining 4 lbs. of mint in my back yard, I’ll be all set….

I opted to take creative liberties with the recipe that I followed (of course) and served the beans on the side with some jasmine rice that had been cooked in chicken broth.  It was probably unnecessary as both Neil and I were so stuffed by the end of this meal that is was silly, but I was initially worried that a piece of fish on top of lettuce wasn’t going to cut it with our appetites.

Ingredients:

1 ½  lb salmon

1 small onion, minced

1 small red bell pepper, diced 1/4 inch

4 medium cloves garlic pressed

1 TBS +  ½  cup chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups or 15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained

1 ½  TBS ancho chili powder

2 cups chopped lettuce (like butter or romaine)

Dressing:

4 TBS fresh chopped cilantro

2 TBS fresh chopped mint

2 TBS fresh chopped basil

5 TBS fresh lemon juice

4 TBS olive oil

1 TBS chopped pepitas

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Season salmon with salt and pepper and set aside
  • Heat 1 TBS broth in a skillet and when it begins to steam add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté over a  medium heat for about 5 minutes
  • Add 1/2 cup broth, black beans, and ancho chili powder. Cook for another 10 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste
  • While the beans are cooking, preheat your grill
  • In a bowl mix together cilantro, mint, basil, lemon juice, olive oil, pepitas, salt and pepper
  • Grill the salmon for about 10 minutes (your grill should be between 400 and 500 degrees)
  • Serve the salmon on a bed of lettuce, topped with the dressing, with beans on the side

J

Paella

I will admit to being a bit apprehensive about attempting paella.  This dish is so rich in tradition and is thought of by many as the national dish of Spain for goodness sakes.  With the list of expensive ingredients (and I did an abridged version) I did not want to have the creation from hell (yes this has happened in my kitchen before) on my hands.  I can honestly say that my anxieties were for not.  The dish really comes together on its own- all the cook really does is add the ingredients at various stages and watch it happen.  The flavor profile is fantastic- sweet peas and creamy rice, acidic tomatoes, savory saffron.  This one is definitely worth your time.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil

1 Spanish chorizo

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 Spanish onion, diced

1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed

1 cup Spanish rice, short to medium grain

1 teaspoon saffron threads

3 cups water, warm

12-16 large shrimp, peeled

1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:

  • Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry, then cut into cubes
  • Mix the oregano and paprika with salt and pepper in a small bowl
  • Rub the spice mixture all over the pieces of chicken; marinate for 30 minutes or more
  • Heat the olive oil in a paella pan or wide skillet over a medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, and brown
  • Add the chorizo and continue to for 5 minutes (you will see the sausage begin to brown)
  • Remove the chicken and sausage to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any excess oil

  • Return the pan to the stove and lower the heat to medium
  • Make a sofrito by sauteing the garlic, onion, and tomatoes until the mixture caramelizes a bit; season with salt & pepper

  • Add the rice, stirring to coat the grains

  • Stir the saffron into the rice. Pour in the water and simmer for 10 minutes (do not cover)
  • Add the reserved chicken and chorizo. Give the paella a couple of good stirs to coat all of the pieces and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes
  • Scatter the peas & shrimp on top and continue to cook for 5 minutes

  • Allow to rest, off of heat for 5 minutes

  • Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges

This recipe was adapted from one by Tyler Florence.  I made my version a bit lighter and less heavy on the seafood.

J