As peoples interest in eating grains has grown, so has the variety of rices available in stores. In addition to white and brown, some markets offer rice in an assortment of other colors. There are red rices from Bhutan, high in the Himalayas, and from the Camargue in southern France. Black rices include the sticky kind grown in Southeast Asia, which turns purple during cooking, and non-sticky Forbidden Rice from China, which stays black.

Even if your shopping is limited to white and brown rices, most likely you will find plump Arborio for making risotto, and fragrant basmati and jasmine long-grain rices, which are good in pilafs and salads. Wild rice, although botanically different from all other rices, is cooked and served like any other rice.

Ideally, we should always choose brown rice. Because it is a whole grain, it gets its color from the outer layer of bran. This layer also contains most of the nutrients in rice, including vitamins, minerals and fiber, so removing that layer of bran also removes some of those important nutritional contributions.

Eating brown rice does not mean missing the appealing variety described in books like The Amazing World of Rice, by Marie Simmons. You can still enjoy sumptuous dishes that are green, red, black, or yellow. In fact, the ingredients that add color to any dish also add exciting flavors, even if you use the same brown rice for all rice dishes.

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Cilantro and chiles add a colorful green to a Southwestern rice dish, as chopped spinach and Parmesan cheese do in an Italian rice dish. Using turmeric or curry powder with brown basmati rice makes fabulous, golden Indian pilafs and curries. Squid ink turns the rice in Spanish paella or Italian risotto inky black. Red Rice can be a Cajun Dirty Rice, made with chicken gizzards, garlic and onions, or a Caribbean-style version, cooked with red beans, coconut milk and thyme. Add tomatoes and you will have this moist Creole rice that can be served as a side dish or, with some cooked shrimp added, as a main course.

Red Rice

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1-3 minced garlic cloves, or to taste
  • 1-2 (or to taste) green chiles (like jalapeo or serrano), seeded and minced
  • 1/2 lb. plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Directions

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  1. Heat the oil in a medium Dutch oven or deep, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Saut onions and celery until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and chiles. Cook 1 minute. Mix in tomatoes and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Mix rice into the vegetables, making sure kernels are coated with oil. Stir in tomato sauce. Add water, bay leaf and salt. Cover pot tightly. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is done, about 45 minutes, stirring and checking cooking progress occasionally.
  3. Let rice sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Season rice with salt and pepper to taste. Fluff moist rice with a fork before serving. Garnish with the parsley.

Per Serving:
236 calories,
5 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
43 g. carbohydrate,
5 g. protein,
5 g. dietary fiber,
71 mg. sodium


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