An ode to brown rice…

Or arroz integral… 🙂

Brown rice has been a favorite of mine since childhood. It’s a bit chewy; it has a great, subtle nutty flavor; it smells a bit like peanuts when you cook it; it is way better for you than white rice in terms of vitamins, fiber, glycemic-index…

Suffice to say, I like brown rice.

Folks in Portugal eat a lot of rice. They don’t eat as much rice as, say, Indonesians do, but it is one of the four main rotating carbohydrates on the average plate (as far as I’ve noticed). Bread (pão), potatoes (batatas), rice (arroz), and pasta (massa) are the big four carbs in this country. I suppose pastries and cakes form a significant fifth carbo-column, but that’s a separate, dessert issue.

Like most rice-eating folks, the Portuguese eat a lot of white rice. We’re going brown in our household, however. The Man is on board (he’s pretty flex and generally awesome), and we tried out some recipes this week.

1. Brown rice as a side to chicken/pork/beef/fish/whatever:

The Man liked the substitute and enjoyed the flavor and texture. Brown rice holds up on its own. Boa! 🙂 (This means it’s Portuguese-approved!)

2. Fried rice:

Brown rice in fried rice is fabulous– just be sure to let it dry out a little, and rinse the rice before boiling to get rid of some of the starch. Fried rice is generally best when made with leftover rice– a day, two days, three days old is great! I usually just crumble it into the wok with my hands to break up the refrigerated chunks.

The batch I made was pretty healthy, considering the fried carb factor. I used (roughly):

  • 2 cups of prepared brown rice
  • one small carrot, julienned (cut into skinny strips)
  • about a cup of chopped, fresh, farmers market long green beans
  • 3 free range egg whites
  • 3 dried Thai chili peppers, chopped
  • 4 or 5 diced garlic cloves
  • half a large, red bell pepper/capsicum, cubed
  • a good handful of cilantro/coriander (coentro) fresh from the farmers market, roughly chopped
  • about a tablespoon of olive oil (tweak as needed)
  • soy sauce or tamari to taste

It looks relatively inoffensive on the health front, right? I sautéed the garlic and chili first to flavor the oil, and the red pepper and green beans were thrown in soon after. Then the carrots jumped into the wok. Then the rice and cilantro…some soy sauce… and egg whites, thrown in and mixed up until they cooked.

Obviously, I added more chili at the table 😉

Here’s what it looked like:

In the wok...

And another shot (because I took it):

The steamy, sexy version

On the plate:

with red wine, of course!

And up close and personal:

Don't those veggies look good?

3. The Leftover Remix:

There were some leftovers, and I combined those (maybe a cup, in total) with more brown rice, added some more veggies (LOTS of cilantro/coriander, red pepper, green beans, fresh roma tomatoes) and threw in about a cup of garbanzo beans/chick peas (grão de bico) for a whole new flavor.

I think I loved it even more than I liked the fried rice, which says a lot. Of course, it was still rice-based, but the combination of flavors (especially with the garbanzo beans) was really different. And with all the fresh goodness+heartiness, the dish had the happy belly-feel of a protein-power dish at an organic/hippy restaurant. It was gooooooooooood.

And it looked like this:

Leftover Remix with Garbanzo Beans (yes, I was generous with the olive oil)

As a side note, I just wanted to show you what My Man whipped up the other day. This is so Portuguese, but really healthy, simple, and good. Served drenched (swimming) in olive oil, of course! (The garbanzo beans he didn’t use for this went into my Leftover Remix, above.)

Boiled codfish, potatoes, garbanzo beans, and lots of olive oil

And a gratuitous shout-out to our local farmers market:


10 thoughts on “An ode to brown rice…

    1. Wow!!! Ok…since he cooked while you were at your awesome new job, I’d venture that your fried rice tasted WAY better than mine (although mine was delicious!). 🙂

  1. Fried rice is one of my favourites too, so is husbands that cook too, but of course I only have one of those.
    Now Megan its time to buy some decent wine glasses dont you think?

  2. It’s one of my favorites too, thanks for this recipe! (I’m in Asia though, hard to convert people here 🙂
    Try with minced meat, kidney beans, coriander, courgette and lots of garlic and onion sometime, also very tasty!

    1. Southeast Asia is so hard, regarding the brown rice/white rice battle! Your hack sounds delightful (though I won’t try the meat, being a veggie)… My lunch was red beans and rice, with green beans, tons of coriander and parsley, lots of garlic, carrots, and piri-piri sauce 🙂 I feel so Organic Superior right now ;P

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