Monday, December 19, 2011

There is no such thing as wasted leftover rice

That epiphany came to me yesterday morning as I was cleaning up after breakfast.

We eat a lot of hot cereal for breakfast; cracked wheat, oatmeal, rice, Cream of Wheat, all the classics. Yesterday morning our Sunday brunch was built around a bowl of rice sweetened with local honey and a dash of cinnamon. Along with that, we had an apple each, a half a plum, a piece of toast and a pair of soft-boiled eggs.

We were full and miserable too, but in a Chinese food sort of passed quickly.

An hour later I was in the kitchen cleaning up and there was about 3/4 of a cup of rice left in the rice cooker. I looked at the shelf behind me and saw the ingredients for baked pasta that would keep for a day and changed my mind about what to have for dinner.

Instead of Florentine baked shells, I would make a hearty mushroom soup with lots of green veggies...I used chicken broth for my base, but this could easily be converted to a vegan-friendly quite easily:

6 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)

Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer with a couple of bay leaves.

1 cup chopped celery
3 cups sliced baby bellas
garlic butter, or olive oil, to saute celery and mushrooms

1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen or leftover peas*
1/2 cup chopped baby carrot and/or a small sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes. (Optional, but adds nice color.)

4-6 cups spinach
2 cups broccoli florettes
1 bunch scallions, chopped, including the green tops.

Add sauteed celery and mushrooms to broth, peas and green beans. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, then remove a cup of broth to cool and add four-six cups of fresh baby spinach. (It will cook down. A lot.) About ten minutes after the spinach is added, thoroughly mix four tablespoons of corn starch into the broth that you removed to cool (add an ice cube if necessary) and return it to the pan to thicken the soup. Once thickened, add the broccoli and scallions, and any leftover rice you have -- white, long grain, pilaf, whatever...

When the broccoli is bright green, turn off the heat, transfer it to a tureen and serve.

Sprinkle with crumbed feta and serve with pita crackers.

*if using pea pods, don't add them now, add them later, with the broccoli and scallions

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