In the early 1970s, when I lived in an apartment in a college town, my roommates and I discovered health food stores.
Those were the places where you bought your "green" things (organic food, exotic tea, recycled everything) and your "brown" things (brown rice, whole wheat flour, wheat germ).
Health food stores are fewer and farther between today, when both green and brown things are available not only in Whole Foods and some big-box stores, but also in small markets like the one in our village.
I'm grateful, though, to that store near my college apartment for introducing me to brown rice. Without it, I'd never have made The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.
Brown rice, which tastes a bit nutty and sweet, is also a bit trickier to cook than long-grain white rice, and it takes longer (45-50 minutes) to steam. I buy Nishiki short-grain brown rice in the Asian foods section of my regular grocery store, and make a big batch in my rice cooker, following the rice cooker directions on the package (one cup of rice to three cups of water). It couldn't be easier.
What is brown rice?
Brown rice is white rice that hasn't been stripped of all of its layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed in processing, leaving behind the bran and germ layers where most of the nutrients reside. Because of the natural oils in rice, it will turn rancid if not stored properly.
Where/how to store?
Uncooked rice: remove unused rice from original packaging and place in an airtight container, in a cool, dry part of the pantry, for up to 3 months. For longer storage, freeze for up to 1 year. Cooked rice: refrigerate immediately, and use within 3 days, or freeze for longer storage.
More facts about brown rice, and ingredient photo, on The Perfect Pantry:
Brown rice (Recipe: vegetable fried rice)
Black bean and brown rice burrito
Inspired by many recipes online, this vegetarian burrito is easy to put together if you have brown rice cooked in advance. Use canned beans if you must, but just like the rice, beans can be cooked and stored in the fridge or freezer ahead of time. A bit of shredded rotisserie chicken could get tucked in here and there, too, but you absolutely don't need it. Serves 6 (one burrito per person).
1-2 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp tsp cumin
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked black beans*, or 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
6 8-inch oat bran or whole wheat tortillas
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use 0% fat)
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup of your favorite prepared salsa, plus extra for topping
Heat the oil in large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin, and cook 1-2 minutes until the onion is tender. Add rice and beans. Cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes until the mixture is thoroughly heated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from the heat.
To assemble, set out the tortillas on a counter top or individual plates. Spoon 1/2 cup of the rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. Top each with shredded cheese, a drizzle of yogurt, a sprinkling of green onion and avocado, and a bit of salsa. Roll the tortilla up like an eggroll (fold the sides in, then roll up as best you can), and top with more salsa, if desired.
*Note: 2 cups of black beans, cooked, is not the same as 2 cups of cooked beans. If you measure the beans dry, and then cook them, the volume will double.
Other recipes that use brown rice:
Brown rice casserole with leftover turkey (or chicken), mushrooms, sour cream, cheese, and thyme, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spanish rice bake with brown rice, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Brown rice medley pilaf with apples, walnuts and pomegranate seeds, from Christine Cooks
Asparagus and mushroom quiche with a brown rice crust, from Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen
Peanuts and brown rice with Asian dressing, from eCurry
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