Don’t throw that extra rice away! We eat a LOT of rice at our house, with me being a China lover and my hubby a Peruvian (they eat it almost every day), so we often have a little extra, sometimes a lot (if my kids don’t eat at home), so I’ve had to figure out ways to use that extra-I don’t like to waste food, and rice is so very versatile, taking up the flavor of whatever you add it to. I want to encourage you to add this great grain to a variety of dishes, so you’ll find here a few go-to recipes and suggestions I’d like to share!
Rice is a good staple to have around and a highly nutritious food! It is essentially a whole grain, full of iron, a good source of manganese and folate and almost no fat. A cup of cooked white rice has only about 200 calories and even carries 4 grams of protein, for those of us who are seeking protein sources that build muscle (but not body fat). Rice also has healthy amounts of fluoride, potassium and phosphorous, to help build strong bones and teeth, as well as omega-3 fatty acids which contribute to a healthy heart and circulatory system. The Chinese, who consume great quantities of rice, have known the health attributes of this wonderful grain for centuries-and still manage to stay pretty thin. Don’t be afraid of using rice to supplement your meals and help you feel full and satisfied!
STIR-FRIED RICE – This is the most obvious way we use the left-over rice, but it’s so open to variation that it tops the list. American-style fried rice is so full of fat, but the Chinese only use about 2 TBSP of oil (usually peanut or a combo of peanut/sesame seed oil), so their version is more healthy-plus the fact that they throw in any number of fresh, chopped/sliced vegetables to it. Cook a couple of scrambled eggs in 1 TBSP oil and they take them out and set them aside. Use the other TBSP of oil to stir-fry the sliced vegies over medium-high heat. Good choices go according to the season: squash, zucchini, green beans; mushrooms of all kinds; red/green/yellow sliced bell peppers, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, snowpeas, are all healthy and nutritious. Half-way through add the scrambled eggs, garlic power, ginger, oyster sauce and soy sauce. A little left-over chicken, sliced fish, shrimp, or thinly sliced beef (maybe from a left-over roast) tossed in toward the last part of the cooking process makes a full meal. Check out recipes here!
SPANISH TORTA-This is an egg and rice dish that I bake in the oven. Mix 2-3 eggs per family member, the left over rice, garlic, sliced onions, sliced peppers and/or mushrooms. Sauté a few pieces of salmon, tuna or your favorite fish, gently in a TBSP oil until it cooks nearly all the way through. Put the fish into the baking dish or cast-iron skillet (coat with butter-spray), pour the egg-rice mix over it and set it in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. I like to layer thinly sliced tomatoes on top, then turn on the broiler for 10 minutes to brown them a little–this adds color and vitamins to the dish. Find a recipe here!
QUICKIE GUMBO-This is a great lunch favorite and so easy to make. Take a cup or so of cooked rice and add it to a good-sized pot with a can or two (depending on how many are eating) of okra-tomatoes-corn, and a couple of cans of pinto beans, a sliced onion and even a little left-over or canned chicken. Season with garlic, Tony Tchatcher’s New Orleans Seasoning; simmer, covered for only 15 minutes on medium. Find a photo and one version of it here!
RICE SALAD-Cold cooked rice brought to room temp, then tossed with cooked green peas, shredded cheese, a little half-fat mayo, chopped onions. Or the Greek version: Mix the rice with feta cheese chunks, black olives, fresh tomato slices, spinach leaves, garlic powder and a bit of virgin olive oil for dressing. Serve with pita slices and hummus.
TACO NIGHT-Mix the rice with black beans and corn, chopped onion and tomato, fresh cilantro and a little cheese. Place the mix in corn tortillas and fold in half. Spray with a little butter spray and run under the broiler for 5 minutes.
HORCHATA-This is a delicious Mexican drink usually made with rice soaked overnight, then blended with the other ingredients, but I’ve found that it’s also good made with cold, leftover rice. Put a cup of cold rice in the blender with 2 cups of milk, cinnamon, a little sugar, vanilla and a touch of nutmeg. Run the blender on liquefy and pour into glasses on a hot day to enjoy!
NEW ORLEANS RICE CAKES (Calas Tout Chaud)-Mix your cold rice with a little flour and egg, some sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Form into balls and fry them up on hot peanut oil. Remove with a slotted spoon when delicately golden and sprinkle with powdered sugar. I like to dip them in caramel sauce too!
Leftover rice freezes well, and stored in a tight container, will keep for up to two weeks on the top shelf at the back of your fridge (where it is closest to the freezer). If you just want to reheat it for a meal, add a pinch of salt and just enough water to cover the bottom of a small pot. Add the rice, put on the lid to let it steam, and gently cook on medium low for 15 minutes.
These are just a few suggestions on how to use leftover rice in your daily meals. With a bit of imagination and ingenuity-and the help of the internet!-you can develop many more according to your family’s tastes! Soup thickener, rice pudding, salmon and rice patties, canned beans with rice and a little cooked sausage, just so many ways to use this versatile grain! I would love to hear how YOU use leftover rice, so please comment below-Thanks!