How to bake rice, by Bobbi Mullins


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My friend, Pat introduced me to baked rice a few weeks ago when she and her husband invited us over for dinner. Actually, I have baked rice before mixed with other ingredients (i.e., Lentil Rice Casserole), but never as a stand-alone dish.


We’re always excited to spend time with Pat and Robert, who travel extensively. We enjoy hearing their funny stories and seeing the photos they compile from around the world. Additionally, their home is situated on a lake, so a visit usually involves going out on their boat and taking a swim. On top of that, they love to cook, and they’re good at it! 


This time, we told them to keep it simple so we could just enjoy the lake and not worry about dinner. However, the weather did not cooperate. It was either threatening to storm or raining all day. So, we simply enjoyed a relaxing afternoon talking about their recent and upcoming travels and walking down to the pier during the moments when the rain stopped. 


We were able to do this in part because of the simplicity of the menu, which included a baked rice dish with parsley and cheese. Talk about simple! Pat had assembled it beforehand and put it in the oven about an hour before dinnertime. We then sat down and had a glass of wine while the oven did the work! At the end, she just stirred in the remaining ingredients and served it up. Perfect with the pan seared salmon and mango avocado salsa!


That baked rice dish has been in the back of my mind ever since our visit, and I finally decided to make my own version. Unlike Pat’s, I wanted to use brown rice and skip the cheese. I did a little research and found a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated that I used as my general guide, but tweaking it as I usually do.


I rinsed 1 cup of brown basmati rice and spread it in an oiled 8” x 8” baking dish.


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Next, I sautéed 1 onion in 2 Tbsp. of butter.


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I boiled, then poured 2 1/4 cups liquid into the baking dish with the rice. I used about 1 cup vegetable broth and the rest was water.


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Then I added the sautéed onions.


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I stirred it all up, covered it with foil, then put it in my preheated oven to bake for 1 hour at 375°F.


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After removing it from the oven, I fluffed it up a bit, just to make sure it was done. Beautiful! Cook’s Illustrated said to cover it with a towel and let stand for 5 minutes, then uncover and let stand another 5 minutes.  I didn’t read that part of the recipe, so I didn’t do it. It seemed just fine right out of the oven, but I suppose I did let it stand a few minutes, while I chopped the cilantro. 


Speaking of cilantro, did you know that the stems have just as much or more flavor than the leaves? Feel free to use some of the stems, as long as you chop everything. Now, parsley is a different story. It is not recommended that you use parsley stems, which can be bitter.


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I added about 1/2 cup cilantro and stirred it in, along with the juice from half a lemon.


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This was the perfect side to serve with leftover grilled chicken and cherry chutney. I completed it with steamed green beans. Sorry, but we ate it all up before I could take a photo!


There you have it! Simple and no fuss, although you do need a little extra time for baking. We had some of the leftover rice with shrimp and vegetables the next night. Then I used the last little bit in a new recipe I’m working on for stuffed poblanos. 


I’m so happy when I find a versatile dish that my husband is willing to eat three nights in a row.


I don’t know exactly how Pat made hers, but I want to thank her for giving me this idea! Thanks, Pat!


Click here for recipe.


© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™