Brown rice is one of the most popular, versatile whole grains out there, a healthy starch I can always count on my kids eating without complaints. When it’s done right –– as in not overcooked –– it’s also satisfyingly chewy, filling, and good for you. In fact, compared with white rice, brown rice packs more than double the fiber, B6, magnesium, and potassium, facts I can’t ignore as a dietitian.
Brown rice is one of those super staples: If stored correctly, it can last in your cupboard for up to a year. Learning how to cook it can change the texture of your dish. It has a long-ish cook time, and slight errors in measurements or heat settings can lead to a less-than-perfect result. My no-fail method is this: Use a 6:1 cups of water to cups of dry rice ratio. Bring water to a boil, add rice, cook for 30 minutes uncovered, turn off heat, and drain in a colander or mesh sieve. Then add the rice back to the pot, cover, and let it sit for 20 minutes on a cold burner. (Don’t be tempted to skip this step: Allowing the rice to sit is the secret here, the key to fluffy rice.)
Cooking brown rice as you would cook pasta can reduce the amount of inorganic arsenic in it, as well. Inorganic arsenic exposure can raise your risk for certain skin disorders and cancers, so removing it from rice is a good idea.
Think about making a big batch of this once a week, and setting some aside for a meal or two. You can freeze the rest by cooling it on a large baking sheet, then storing it in airtight freezer bags. Frozen rice should keep for about three months.
When you’re ready to eat it, just throw it into a bowl with 2 to 3 Tbsp of water and microwave it for 1 to 2 minutes, or toss it into a saucepan with the same amount of water and cook it on low for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring until hot.
OK. Ready to get cooking? Check out three fun, fast brown rice recipes below.
Brown Rice Black Bean Burgers
Brown rice, black beans, sautéed mushrooms, and a few spices make these homemade veggie burgers not only flavorful, but also easy to make ahead. Serve on a bun or lettuce with condiments, or top one with a little avocado and tomato and eat as a snack.
Easy Muffin Tin “Sushi”
Love sushi, but don’t love the idea of making it at home? Give this sushi variation a try. Muffin tins provide the perfect mold for a sticky brown rice base. Top rice with a lightened-up sriracha aioli and a mix of cooked salmon, cucumber, carrot, and avocado, and voilà. You’ve got a fun spin on sushi that’s perfect for dinner.
Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Skillet
This straightforward one-skillet meal proves yet again that simple and easy is often the way to go. Both savory and satisfying, this dish serves up protein, complex carbs, and veggies all in one skillet, along with 15% DV for calcium and 10% DV for potassium.
CAROLYN WILLIAMS, PHD, RD