Healing Foods: How to Make Perfect Brown Rice Risotto


I don't know about you, but I love the idea of brown rice. It's a healing grain (rich in fiber, selenium, manganese, and anti-oxidants) that digests well, doesn't pack on the weight or drag down your energy level (like say, a big bowl of pasta does,) and it's the perfect pairing for a bunch of other healing foods like steamed or roasted vegetables.

BUT.

I said I liked the idea of brown rice. Making good brown rice is tricky and time-consuming. My brown rice is usually dry unless I overcook it, actually, and laborious to chew. Also, it's bland, and more salt doesn't always do the trick. Then I just have over-salted, dry brown rice that doesn't do much for the healthy steamed vegetables I was trying to spruce up with a grain. So the reality ends up being...brown rice was "all right" as part of a meal but not amazing.

Until I discovered this method of cooking it. It's vegan, but it turns out so creamy and delicious you'd swear there was cheese in it. It's delicious by itself, and not too dry and bland to be the grain backdrop to a vegetable entree. This has now become one of my weekly staples to keep on hand because it reheats well and goes with everything else I eat.

Here's the recipe. You may need to tweak the water amount for your altitude and type of pan or pot you're using. I'm at about 6,000 feet elevation, and I make it in a wok with a fitted lid.

BASIC BROWN RICE RISOTTO

(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free)

1 cup short grain brown rice
4 cups water
½ - 1 cup chopped yellow onion
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1 TBS olive oil
1- 2 TBS Chopped or dried parsley
Salt & pepper to taste (I use 1 tsp coarse grey sea salt)

Heat oil in wok or large saucepan. Sauté onions and garlic until onion is translucent and starting to caramelize. Rinse rice, add to pan, and sauté until rice soaks up oil. Add parsley (you can add other herbs here as well, dill, thyme, rosemary, chives, etc. would all be good) and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, lid it, and turn heat down to low. Simmer 50-55 minutes. Rice should be tender to bite at this point (check to be sure,) but there should still be water standing in the pan. If not, add more water 1/2 cup at a time. With the lid off, keep cooking and stirring occasionally until most of the moisture cooks off, or until the risotto is to your desired level of creaminess. Serve with more fresh herbs of your choice. (I like to only put the parsley in my basic risotto, and then I can mix in or garnish with whatever herb fits the meal I’m having. Example: with steamed carrots, dill is good in the risotto and on the carrots.)

You can also use this basic recipe as the base for mushroom risotto, roasted red pepper risotto, vegetable primavera risotto, or just about any risotto variation you like.

To reheat without a microwave (just in case you're an anti-microwave freak like me): cover the bottom of a small saucepan with a thin layer of water, heat over medium heat until it starts to bubble a little, then put your serving of brown rice on top. Lid it and turn down the heat. It will steam up nicely in about 5 minutes. Check and stir to make sure it isn't sticking or burning. (If it is, you have your heat up too high.)