Cajun-Style Brown Rice

Cajun-style brown rice

Here's another day of following eGullet's project to cook without shopping for a week by simply using the ingredients you have on hand in your home. Today I discovered a half bag of brown rice, a lone red bell pepper, some leftover celery, and an onion. Since Mardi Gras is tomorrow, why not make a jambalaya? So with this adapted trinity (the typical trinity uses a green bell pepper) I created a festive and healthy dish. I could have added chicken and sausage to keep it traditional, but since I did not have either, I decided to make a vegetarian version. In the end I had a paella-like Cajun side dish that I could pair with anything even leftovers. Using the brown rice rather than white made it even more nontraditional, but it made it more interesting and healthier.

Since it's a whole grain, brown rice is a much better choice than white rice. It's high in fiber, more nutritious, and has a slight nutty flavor. Its texture is chewy, akin to al dente pasta. The only downside is that brown rice has a shorter shelf life than white. In its original packaging brown rice can last for about six months before going rancid, but it stays longer in an airtight container. Brown rice is really a satisfying replacement for white in this spicy and flavorful dish.

Cajun-Style Brown Rice

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups cooked brown rice

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté until onion is caramelized and celery and bell pepper are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste; add spices. Add remaining tablespoon of oil and the cooked rice and sauté for a few minutes so that the rice toasts in the oil and takes on the color of the paprika. Yield: 2 servings.

Brown Rice

1-1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

In a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add salt and rice and lower heat to a simmer. Do not stir rice. Cover and let cook until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand covered for an additional 10 minutes. Yield: 4-1/2 cups.