Rice: not just a side dish

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Rice is an all-star ingredient in most houses. Its multiple advantages allow people worldwide to eat it at almost every meal.

Affordability, adaptability, blank flavor, and various ways of cooking are just a few wonders of this multifaceted grain. These make possible the creation of the most varied food preparations. Furthermore, the more 120,000 rice varieties increase the number of rice dishes prepared.

Rice recipes vary from the main dish, accompaniment, and desserts; to beverages and alcoholic drinks. Each of them uses rice in particular ways to benefit from rice properties.

Different rice preparations

For most people, rice is mainly considered a versatile side dish. Several main meals include plain white rice as the perfect complement for meats, fish, pork, and poultry, and even vegetarian options.

However, rice is a great grain to build the main dish around. It is strong and flavorsome enough to be the main course at any meal. Its blank taste favors the pairing with endless ingredients.

The results are dishes with various components and delicious flavors. Think of fried rice, risotto, beans and rice, and paella.

In sugary dishes, rice takes dessert to another level. Depending on the rice type, its final texture is used for giving desserts the desired consistency. Some examples are creamy rice pudding, chewy Mochi, crispy arancini, and soft and sticky cakes.

As regards beverages, rice is the base ingredient for fermented and unfermented drinks. In general, fermented drinks are alcoholic ones like sake, beer, or wine rice. Unfermented forms create fresh beverages such as rice milk, horchata, or chicha.

Rice as stuffing

Rice is also very popular for its use as an alternative or substitution ingredient. Due to food intolerance or dietary restrictions, people turn to rice as a valid and good option.

It is a delicious alternative to different types of dishes. When gluten sensitivities or other health issues appear, this grain comes to the rescue without compromising taste.

One way of using it wisely is in the non-traditional but healthier stuffing. Imagine making a filling for a turkey, chicken, or vegetable without bread or any flour. It is possible with rice.

The options are unlimited, and with the right pairing; the rice will be the start of any stuffed food. Turkeys for thanksgiving, chicken, duck, countless vegetables, and even tacos and tortillas can be filled with rice.

Rice-stuffed vegetables

Vegetables are the perfect container for stuffing with rice. Most vegetables can be filled with this delightful grain. The most popular stuffed vegetables include eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, and potatoes.

Other vegetables are plantains, avocados, onions, squashes, cucumbers, and cabbages, among other food.

By adding the correct pairing ingredients, you can make stunning stuffed vegetables. They work as appetizers, side dishes, or a complete main meal.

Rice stuffing is multipurpose. You can use the same rice filling with any vegetable, or change one ingredient and make new delicious food. If you prefer, use a basic filling and include rice and other components to make an impressive dish.

Be inventive and create your rice stuffing. For example, use the traditional stuffed eggplant recipes, and add your personal touch or secret ingredient to make your brand-stuffed eggplant preparation.

Here, there is a traditional eggplant stuffed recipe. Try it first, and then include your taste.

Rice stuffed eggplants

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 2 large eggplants.
  • 3/4 cup of Basmati rice.
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • 2 cups of water.
  • 1 finely chopped onion.
  • 1 finely chopped red capsicum.
  • 2 red capsicum garlic cloves.
  • 2 teaspoons of ground coriander.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
  • Salt to taste.
  • 1 ½ cups of tomato basil pasta sauce.
  • Chopped fresh parsley to taste.

Preparation:

  1. Turn on the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the eggplants evenly in half. Use a paring knife to slice around the edge of the eggplants, leaving enough flesh on the skin. Take out the flesh with a spoon. Be careful not to cut the skin. Set aside in a baking tray.
  3. In a large saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of olive and heat at medium temperature.
  4. Incorporate Basmati rice and mix.
  5. Pour the water and cook until boiling.
  6. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until all water evaporates. Reserve.
  7. In a frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil.
  8. Add onion, red capsicum, and garlic cloves. Cook until they are soft.
  9. Incorporate coriander, black pepper, salt, and tomato basil pasta sauce.
  10. Add eggplant flesh, and cook for 15 minutes or until eggplants soften.
  11. Turn off the heat. Incorporate cooked rice. Combine.
  12. Fill the cut eggplants with this mixture.
  13. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  14. Once they are ready, serve with chopped fresh parsley at the top.

Variations:

Make this traditional recipe a bit different by adding other seasonings or including other ingredients. You will have a new dish every time you cook.

For example:

Spicy rice-stuffed eggplants:

Add turmeric, ginger, and chili when cooking the vegetables. For extra spicy, use chili pepper.

Rice stuffed eggplants with meat:

This dish is a vegetarian option. You can make a different preparation and give extra flavor by cooking with meat such as turkey, chicken, pork, ground meat, and sausages, among others.

Add the meat to the frying pan before the vegetables, and cook until they are well done.

Rice-stuffed eggplants topped with cheese:

For more flavor, before baking the eggplants, incorporate mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, or a combination of both at the top.

Moroccan rice-stuffed eggplants:

Give the stuffed eggplants a Moroccan taste by adding spices such as saffron, cumin, and sumac. Serve with creme fraiche, sour cream, and pickled lemon peels at the top.

Lebanese Stuffed Eggplant:

This variation includes Lebanese spices, lentils, and pine-nuts. Add allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ground cloves, nutmeg, and sumac.

Lentils are incorporated and cooked at the end of the process along with the rice, and toasted pine-nuts. It is served with fresh dill and pine-nuts at the top.

All these variations work as a complete meal, but if you want to include a side dish, the best option is a fresh salad with yogurt and mint dressing. Other options are creamed spinach and green beans with tomatoes.

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