In soup, salad or part of the main, rice is, well, nice! And during the holiday eating season, rice is ravishing.
Research shows there are literally thousands of rice varieties to choose from, ranging from long to medium to short grain, brown to parboiled and everything in between.
Rice also has a heritage that dates back centuries, but has been produced in the U.S. for more than 300 years. In fact, nearly 65% of rice consumed in Canada is grown by our neighbours south of the border.
In all sorts of sweet and savoury dishes, celebrate rice — it's the life of the party!
Here's a selection of recipes courtesy of USA Rice Federation that will certainly be welcome at any festive event you have planned.
Gingerbread-Spiced Rice Pudding
During the holidays, fill your home with the sweet scents of cinnamon, cloves and ginger with this creamy gingerbread spiced rice pudding. A perfect ending to a holiday meal, this rice pudding appeals to all ages and is easy to prepare. To save on prep time, cook brown rice a day or two in advance.
- 1 cup (250 ml) short-grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups (1 L) whole millk
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) packed brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) butter
- 1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) each ground cinnamon and salt
- Pinch each of nutmeg and ground cloves
- 6 ginger snaps or other ginger cookies
In large saucepan, bring 4 cups (1 L) water and rice to boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Drain, return rice to saucepan, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
Whisk in milk, sugar, butter, vanilla, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered and stirring often, until creamy and thick, about two-thirds of the liquid is evaporated, and rice is tender, 30 to 45 minutes.
Spoon into bowls; serve with ginger cookies.
Makes 6 servings.
TIP: Equally delicious served warm or well chilled. Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped, pitted dried figs, dates, or raisins during the final 15 minutes of cooking, if desired, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts or pecans. Or sprinkle each serving with fresh pomegranate seeds for a burst of fruitiness and jewel-toned colour.
Rice and Salmon Packets
Whether cooked in the oven or on the barbecue, these packets are ideal for entertaining and can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated and cooked just before serving! Steaming the ingredients in the packet infuses the flavours, creating a mouthwatering, robust taste.
- 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) butter
- 4 green onions, white parts only, sliced (reserve greens for garnish)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 8 oz (250 g) shiitake mushrooms, in thick slices
- 1/2 small fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) minced fresh thyme
- 2 cups (500 ml) cooked, cooled brown rice
- 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 4 pieces fish fillet (4 oz/125 g. each), salmon, halibut, cod or Arctic char
- Lemon wedges
Preheat the oven to 450F (230C). Cut 4 pieces of parchment or foil into 12-inch (30cm) squares.
In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add green onion and garlic; cook until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, fennel and thyme and cook until mushrooms are golden, most of liquid has evaporated and fennel is tender crisp.
Spread 1/2 cup (125 ml) of rice on one side of a sheet of parchment. Lay a portion of fish over rice and top with a quarter of mushroom fennel mixture and a sprinkle of coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper. Repeat with remaining portions. Seal packages and bake on a rimmed baking sheet until puffed and golden, about 8 minutes. Serve in paper packet or carefully transfer contents to a dinner plate. Serve with lemon wedges.
Makes 4 servings.
These appetizers are tasty, original and do not require one to master the ancient art of sushi preparation. Replacing the sushi mat are two more familiar ancient tools: your hands. These one-bite sushi poppers are simple to make and with their unique presentation, fun to serve.
- 1 cup (250 ml) freshly cooked short grain rice
- 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) toasted sesame seeds or black sesame seeds [optional]
- Assorted diced fillings: mango, smoked salmon, wasabi peas, tuna, cucumber, shrimp, wasabi
In large shallow dish, spread rice; sprinkle with seasoned rice vinegar and sesame seeds. Using wooden spoon, toss gently to combine (do not stir or rice will clump.) Keep rice covered with a damp cloth if not using immediately.
Using wet fingers, place rounded teaspoon of rice in palm of your hand. Make an indentation in centre and place desired filling inside. Dip fingers into water and pack rice firmly around filling to make a small ball. Repeat with remaining rice. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds or dot of wasabi, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
Makes 30 pieces.
No-bake Chocolate Date and Rice 'Truffles'
These no-bake, gluten-free rice 'truffles' are easy to prepare and require only six ingredients. They can be served as dessert with fresh fruit or as part of a holiday sweet tray. To save time, truffles may be prepared and frozen up to six months in advance.
- 1 cup (250 ml) raw almonds, roughly chopped
- 12 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 2/3 cup (150 ml) shredded unsweetened coconut
- 2/3 cup (150 ml) cooked medium or long-grain brown rice
- 3 oz. (75 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 to 3 Tbsp. (30 to 45 ml) coconut oil
In food processor, combine almonds, dates, half of coconut, rice, chocolate and oil. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped and holds together, about 1 minute. Add up to 1 tbsp (15 ml) more coconut oil, if necessary, to help bind mixture.
Drop 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) of mixture onto waxed or parchment paper-lined tray. Place remaining coconut in a small bowl; roll each 'truffle' into coconut to coat. Return to tray and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Makes 36 pieces.
TIP: Find coconut oil in some grocery stores and most health food stores. These can also be made with white rice. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.