Spicy Rice: The Unconventional Made Delicious

photo (40)Want to prepare a staple dish that has all of the necessary tag lines to make it headline news? Try these on for size:

-It’s delicious.
-It can be vegetarian or even vegan.
-It can be made with all natural ingredients.
-It’s high in fiber.
-It’s high in the health-promoting antioxidant compound Lycopene.
-It’s balanced and nutritious.
-It can be a snack or a meal.
-You can just walk away while it cooks.

The truth is, it’s a dish you can make in quantity for lots of leftovers, which equates to lots of quick meals throughout the rest of the week. So, what is this mystery dish? It happens to be something I consumed more times than almost any other meal.

The devilish concoction I simply call Spicy Rice takes minutes to prepare, and is novel in its origins. It amounts to brown rice cooked with salsa as part of the liquid mix. When you employ salsa as the cooking liquid, you add pizzazz as the rice steams! Further flavor dimension can be added in various ways, as so many ingredients marry beautifully with salsa. You choose whether to make a big ol’ batch of basic Spicy Rice and add a different ingredient each day for variety, or to make a mega batch of one combination and enjoy for days or with LOTS of friends. Here’s how:

Basic Spicy Rice

1 ½ cups water*
1 cup jarred salsa (choose your favorite brand and spice level, or go with mild and spice it up with your preferred hot sauce)
1 cup brown rice, short or long grain
1 cup beans (navy beans, small white beans, pinto beans, black beans), well rinsed if canned

Bring water and salsa combination to a boil. Add in brown rice without stirring. Cover pot. Once the concoction comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer covered for about 50 minutes until liquid is nearly all absorbed. Let sit, covered for about 5 minutes and fluff with a fork. Fold in a cup of your favorite beans.

*Depending on the thickness of your salsa, you may have to add water during the cooking process.

The Combos

To add a little flavor, nutrition and textural complexity, not to mention colorful appearance to your Spicy Rice, consider these creative combos, both of which have served me well. Start each recipe with 2 cups of basic Spicy Rice, cold:

Chicken & Broccoli Spicy Rice

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chick peas, well rinsed
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
12 green olives, pitted, sliced
¼ chicken, diced
6 oz broccoli florets, steamed
1 oz parmesan, shredded

In a skillet, slowly brown garlic in olive oil with chick peas over medium-high heat. Add chicken, broccoli, spicy rice, olives and tomatoes. If tomatoes don’t yield enough juice, add in 2 Tablespoons water. Stir well. When the tomato juices reduce down, and the concoction is hot, add parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Corn, ‘Cado & Black Olive Spicy Ricephoto (41)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup black beans, well rinsed
½ cup black olives, pitted, chopped
1 cup corn kernels
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ avocado, diced

In a skillet, slowly brown garlic in olive oil with black beans over medium heat. Add corn, olives, Spicy Rice and 2 Tablespoons water (or a shot of salsa). When rice is hot, stir in cheddar and cilantro. Top with avocado. Serve and enjoy!

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