Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cilantro Rice with Chicken

It's my final post in a week playing around with different varieties of rice. Tonight's recipe starts with a quick saute and then finishes in the oven, rather than simmering on the stove. It has a similar tomato topping to that from my recipe for Rice and Black Bean Salad with Cumin Dressing, but with a few tweaks and improvements.  Namely, I used a small tomato variety (I used grape, but cherry tomatoes would work too), and the topping is cooked this time to match the warmth of the rest of the dish. I also plated the topping on individual portions rather than plating the dish on a serving platter.

For the rice:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups quartered shiitake mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion bottoms
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 2 cups uncooked long-grain rice*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 6 Gardein chick'n filets
  • 3 cups vegan chicken broth (such as Imagine)
For the sauce:
  • 2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup vegan chicken broth (such as Imagine)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 peeled garlic clove
For the topping:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops
  • Cilantro sprigs (optional for garnish)
1. To prepare the rice, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the shiitake mushrooms, green onion bottoms, ginger piece, and crushed garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, and add to the pan, along with the rice and cumin; cook for 1 minute.  Stir in 3 cups broth and bring to a boil.

2. Cover and transfer to the oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand - still covered - for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: combine the cilantro leaves, 1/2 cup broth, 2 tablespoons green onion tops, chopped ginger, salt, and peeled garlic clove.

4. Process until smooth.  Stir the sauce into the baked rice, and discard the 1/2-inch garlic piece.

Note: as soon as I stirred the cilantro sauce into the rice mixture, I wished I had made this on St. Patrick's Day; it has the loveliest green tinge, without being over the top. 

4. To prepare the topping, heat the remaining teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in 2 tablespoons green onion tops.  

Serve 1 cup rice mixture on each of 8 plates, and top each serving with 1/4 cup tomato topping.  Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired, for a pretty presentation

*This main dish salad is a great way to showcase long-grain varieties.  I used white basmati tonight, but any long-grain variety (such as American long-grain or a hybrid like Texmati) would work. The key is to have a grain that is four to five times as long as it is wide.

Contrast that to short-grain rice, as in my Sushi-Rice Salad, which is so short compared to its width that it looks almost round.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 cup rice, 1/4 cup tomato topping), Calories 339 

Tasting Notes:
Baking the rice mixture resulted in the most perfect fluffy rice I think I've ever cooked, so that was a great success.  The shiitake and Gardein chicken were earthy and yummy, but I was sad to find that the "green" taste of the cilantro sauce didn't live up to the beautiful green look of it.  Increase the cilantro, ginger, and garlic, and I recommend a splash of fresh lime juice as well.  As I hoped, the warm grape tomato topping was a nice contrasting flavor, but I'd cook the tomatoes even longer next time, until soft and sweet.


Vegan Extra:
Now that I've given you so many rice dishes, you may be wondering what to do with all the leftover rice in your pantry.  Fret not: uncooked rice lasts practically forever.  But if you're short on pantry space and want to use it up in the near future, here are two simple and yummy ideas for lunches or side dishes.

Saute a few sliced garlic cloves in a saucepan.  Add uncooked rice and cook in vegan chicken broth (such as Imagine or Edward & Sons) instead of water.

Combine any leftover cooked rice with bottled vinaigrette, crumbled vegan feta (such as Veg Cuisine), chopped red onion, chopped carrot, chopped celery, and chopped bell pepper for a quick lunch.

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