When our parents host a party, they often fill a soup tureen (we know, a bit weird) with this rice. Bejewelled with little bits of vegetables, it is a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, pitas, and pretty much anything else which might be on the table. If you happen to have some tzatziki on hand, place a dollop of it on your plate, next to the rice. Something truly magical happens when the two combine.
This rice is very simple to make, and you probably already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen. The added beauty is that you can easily substitute the vegetables to accommodate your personal tastes and the produce you have available.
You might want to sit down for this one. A short while ago, while engaging in some light food banter at work, a colleague shared that rice has been the topic of some hot discussions due to the fact that it contains arsenic. That’s right. Arsenic. Now, we don’t know about you, but we feel that arsenic should be found in Agathie Christie murder mysteries and other who-dunnits, not in our pantry. But it is!
There is plenty of information about the arsenic found in rice available online, but as with most things on the internet, read with caution (except this blog…you can read this with wild abandon!). We did a bit of research and have summarized these important facts:
- Don’t panic…too much. The strongest and most consistent message that we found is that you should be eating a well-balanced diet, and if you do, then eating rice occasionally is fine.
- If you are feeding an infant, do not rely solely on rice cereal, and as much as possible, opt for other grains instead (such as oatmeal, barley etc…). Better yet, for any concerns, speak to your paediatrician. It is worth noting that the FDA announced recommended limits of inorganic arsenic in baby food rice cereal quite recently.
- All rice contains arsenic to some degree, including organic rice. Different types of rice (that is, brown, jasmine, parboiled etc…) have varying levels of arsenic.
- It seems that the way that our parents have been cooking rice for all these years, is the best way after all. Must they always be right!? Apparently, yes. They rinse their rice thoroughly, and then cook it in A LOT of water, as though it were pasta. Then, they drain the rice in a fine colander. It seems that cooking rice this way does get rid of some of it’s nutritional components, but it also gets rid of quite a bit of the arsenic, more so than rinsing or soaking alone. I say, that’s a fair trade! If you have a rice cooker and you’re now wondering what to do with it, don’t fret. Rice cookers are amazing for cooking quinoa, couscous, millet and other grains.
- If you want to read more about this issue, you can consult the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website on arsenic in rice by clicking here and here.
Mia Kouppa: Rice with vegetables
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 red pepper
- 1 cup button mushrooms
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cups long grain rice
- Rinse the rice thoroughly under cold, running water.
- Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil and add the rice. You should use a ratio of 6:1 water to rice (so here you would use 12 cups of water for the 2 cups of rice). Cook according to packaging instructions. Check the rice for doneness. When it is done, drain the rice (bye bye arsenic). Set aside.
- Meanwhile finely chop the onion, carrot, red pepper and mushrooms. Heat olive oil in a large pot (one that will be large enough to accommodate the rice and the vegetables) and sauté the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and mushrooms and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes. Finally, add the red pepper and cook for about 2 – 3 minutes.
- Add the cooked rice to the pot of vegetables. Mix well, add salt to taste and serve. Enjoy.