Posts tagged rice
The winter seems to be going on forever. And at lunch time in this weather a salad or sandwich just won’t do – we need something warm to keep us going during the afternoon.
Ainsley Harriott Rice to Go snack pots are lunch time sized meals in a microwavable tub. This sort of thing is readily available already in various forms – simple, quick and easy wherever you have a microwave.
There are four flavours – Spanish style, greek style, jerk chicken and mexican style – each has long grain rice mixed with relevant flavours and ingredients such as chorizo for the Spanish one and beans for the mexican one. To prepare you peel back the lid and bung it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, giving you a piping hot lunch.
I was given one of each of the four flavours to try and our opinion is quite mixed. The main disappointment was that the chorizo in the Spanish Style one was chewy and, well, not really anything like chorizo. I wonder if it was actually chorizo at all? LincsGeek ended up picking those bits out as he just couldn’t eat them. A shame because the flavours were really good. Apart from that these Rice to Go pots were a hit – the Jerk Chicken and Mexican ones were particularly good, I did enjoy those.
I think these are something I would buy as a one off for lunch rather than something I’d eat regularly. They were very filling and tasty (except the Spanish one!); although it’s much better to prepare your own the night before. But when there isn’t time or you forget (which is normally what happens here!) then this kind of easy lunch is a great idea. At £1.99 per pot they are cheaper than a Boots Meal Deal and at 450 or so calories (depending on the flavour) they aren’t bad either as you don’t need anything else.
Risottos are one of my mid-week “go to” meals. They are simple, fairly quick, and only use one pan. They are also pretty healthy when you cook them this way…
Ok so I admit this is probably not a proper risotto – there is no cream, no butter, not even any crème fraiche. In fact I don’t even use proper risotto rice. It’s more like a one-pot-rice-dish that I call a risotto because that’s what it started out as when I learnt how to make them years ago – this is the result.
Here’s my recipe for two people using left over slow cooked gammon.
- Couple of handfuls of left over gammon. Mine had been slow cooked but it really doesn’t matter. Cut or rip into small chunks.
- Bunch of spring onions, a couple of peppers (I used one red and one yellow – a colourful meal is a healthy meal), some button mushrooms and a handful of frozen peas. Chop your peppers and spring onions into bite sized pieces, you may also wish to cut your mushrooms in half depending on the size.
- Rice – I use Basmati as it’s brown rice and therefore slightly healthier. Use 50-60g per person.
- Stock – I use chicken stock when cooking with gammon, it gives the rice a nice mellow flavour. You’ll need 500-600ml.
- Ground black pepper and minced garlic (I love that cheating garlic that comes in a little jar, it’s so convenient).
Rinse the rice. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan. Add some pepper and garlic and fry the rice in it for a couple of minutes until it’s gone translucent.
Add a small amount of the stock and allow to simmer. Once the rice has absorbed that add some more, stirring regularly. Repeat this until the rice is almost cooked – you may not need all the stock. Adding a little at a time means you will not end up with too much liquid in the pan.
At this point add your vegetables and stir through until well mixed. I add these sorts of vegetables close to the end as they really only need warming up, not cooking through (keeps texture and makes the meal nice and fresh). You will find you end up with more liquid thanks to the peppers and peas, which should be enough to finish cooking the rice. If not, add a little more stock or water until the rice is fluffy. You may wish to add another helping of black pepper.
That’s it – serve up in bowls and eat with a spoon!
I’ve no idea on calories but working out what’s in it I reckon a portion comes in at about 10 Weight Watchers Pro Points (I am a Weight Watchers Blog Ambassdor remember!), made up mainly of the rice, so not bad at all for an evening meal, and very filling. You can of course use whatever you have leftover, it’s a great dish to use up what’s in the fridge – chicken or prawns taste good – and it’ll happily accept frozen vegetables if you’ve not got anything fresh in.
If you want a recipe for a “proper” risotto made with the right sort of rice and featuring some lovely goats cheese, see my Chicken and Goats Cheese Risotto recipe.
I was introduced to the idea of Spelt and Speltotto thanks to my recent Flavr Box review. I decided this new-to-me-food was worth a post all of its own because everyone else I’ve spoken to about it hadn’t heard of it either.
Spelt is a gluten-grain with a rich nutty flavor that can be used in place of wheat in most baking recipes, including bread and pizza crusts. The people at Sharpham Park use it in pearl form to give us a meal accompaniment that can be used instead of rice, pasta, couscous or lentils.
High in protein content, which is essential for body maintenance and muscle growth, it also contains all eight essential amino acids. With its low GI, it produces only small fluctuations in our blood sugar levels, and therefore can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is a key to long term health and assists sustainable weight loss as you feel fuller for longer. It also contains carbohydrates and is a good source of fibre, is easily digested due to the high water solubility. Oh, and it tastes good too!
Sounds good doesn’t it?!
“Speltotto” is a term coined by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall when he created a risotto like dish using Sharpham Park pearled spelt. These boxes are meals in themselves, containing pearled spelt and dried vegetables and herbs. I tried two versions – the sundried tomato and chilli and the courgette, garlic and thyme. Both looked something like the above photo, all dry but fairly colourful. A box will serve two for a main meal or four as an accompaniment and the shelf life is nice and long.
They are so simple to prepare. Actually “prepare” is a bad choice of word because you undo the packet, pour it into a pan, and add cold water. You don’t even need to boil the kettle! You then bring it to the boil, simmer for 15 minutes, add a knob of butter, and serve. So easy, and at 20-25 minutes cooking time it makes a very easy mid-week meal.
The spelt really soaks up the water over the cooking time and fluffs up into something that really does resemble risotto. The addition of butter right at the end before serving brings out the flavours and adds a creaminess to the dish – you could substitute olive oil for a healthier alternative but it’s not very much butter and you can’t beat that flavour really.
As for the taste, well, I was really impressed. Both versions we tried were full of flavour. I think we probably have portion control issues though as we weren’t full after eating the courgette one so when I did the tomato and chilli one I also did a garlic baguette to go with it. The chilli one did have a kick which was really pleasant and of the two I think that was our favourite.
This week I am mostly trying to be good with food. Well I always try, I just normally fail. We’re out for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings so I need to get some “healthyness” in early this week to make up for it!
Tonight I cooked some chicken tikka masala with steamed basmati rice and peas… 12 points total in weight watchers terminology which is high but if you’ve been as good as me all day you’ll be doing fine! And of course I’m full and don’t need anything else this evening. Excellent.
02/11/10: Maybe not healthy on the face of it, but not bad at all
I love snacks. Today there has been a lot of talk of baking. Mmmm cakes. But I was good and didn’t have a cake with my lunch, didn’t have a morning or afternoon snack, and haven’t had any sweets. I’ve been really hungry!!! However I couldn’t resist this evening so ended up with a small pot of Ambrosia Rice Pudding, which went down very nicely thank you! I am trying to be good… honest!
28/08/10: All gone! (Mmm rice pudding)