Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hippie Rice

The first signature dish I ever had as a kid was Broccoli Bacon Salad, a salad primarily composed of broccoli, dressed with a mayonnaise-based sauce and garnished with (obviously) bacon, sunflower seeds, and raisins. When I was flipping through The Food Matters Cookbook, this recipe stuck out to me because it reminded me of that dish which I made for nearly every family holiday gathering as a child, but is a healthier and more grown-up version. The combination of sweet, soft raisins and fresh, crunchy broccoli (I like mine cooked to crisp-tender) is a surprisingly good one, made even better with the nutty sunflower seeds and kick of heat from the red pepper flakes. This can either be served as a side or turned into a main dish with the addition of chicken or tofu and is great leftover for lunch the following day.

Hippie Rice
adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman

1⁄3 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup any long-grain brown rice
1 head broccoli (about 1 pound), cored and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 cup raisins
1⁄2 teaspoon red chile flakes, or to taste
Lemon wedges

1. Put the sunflower seeds in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and toast, shaking the pan often, until they begin to brown but don’t burn, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the seeds from the pan and let cool in a big serving bowl.

2. Put the rice in the pan and add water to cover by about 1 inch. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cover and cook until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is just getting tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Pack the broccoli into the pan on top of the rice—don’t stir; just leave it on top—and add a little more liquid if the water is evaporating too quickly. Replace the lid and continue cooking, adding a small amount of water if the pan boils dry, until the rice and broccoli are both tender, 5 to 10 more minutes. Transfer the rice and broccoli to the bowl with the sunflower seeds and toss with the oil, raisins, and red chile flakes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately or at room temperature with the lemon wedges.

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