Archive for March 31, 2010

Change of pace: My favorite recipe

I’m not a great cook, but living on my own as I do, I’ve had to develop a modest degree of culinary skill so I’d have an alternative to frozen dinners and sandwiches.  This is a quick, fairly easy recipe I concocted a while back, enjoyed quite a bit, and have refined as I went.  Today I made it again (I’m eating it as I write this) and I decided that, instead of just eyeballing the proportions as I usually do, I’d measure more carefully so I could get it into a form resembling an actual recipe I could pass on to others.

I don’t have a name for the thing, but it’s a chicken-and-rice dish, basically.  The ingredients are:

  • 1 cup (or so) cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup diced precooked chicken
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil (I prefer pure)
  • 1 medium to large clove garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Grated parmesan cheese

Preparation is simple enough.  Cook whatever kind of rice you prefer (I’ve done it with every kind of rice from the regular kind that takes half an hour to cook to the 10-minute boil-in-bag kind to the 90-second microwave pouches, depending on what kind and how much time I’ve had available), just so long as the cooked volume is 1 cup or so.  Meanwhile, steam the peas for a few minutes (not sure this step is necessary, but it saves time in the combining stage).  Steaming is better than boiling since you don’t drain the nutrients away with the boil water.  If the chicken is frozen, thaw it.  Mince the garlic clove finely — remember to smash it first to release the flavor.

Once the rice is cooked, put it in a medium saucepan (if it isn’t there already) and stir in the peas, chicken, olive oil, and garlic (not necessarily in that order) and grind black pepper over it to taste.  Simmer over medium heat until it’s uniformly heated; I forgot to time this stage, but I think it took me about 8 minutes this time.  Once plated, top with the grated parmesan.  (I’ve tried mixing in the parmesan with the rest, but it sticks more to the pan and the storage containers.)  It makes about three servings, or two if you have a big appetite.

I think it’s a pretty healthy meal.  You’ve got whole grain, lean meat, a green vegetable, garlic (whose health benefits are often exaggerated but still present), and plenty of ultra-nutritious olive oil.  The oil has a fair amount of fat, but it’s the good kind of fat, the kind that reduces cholesterol.  And the grated parmesan is pretty low in fat, according to the label on the little green can.  If you like, you could ease off on the olive oil, but I love the stuff so I like to pour it on.  (Funny, I don’t like olives much, but I love the oil.  Though the extra virgin kind is a bit too intense for me.)  And in addition to being healthy, it’s easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and tastes good.  I like to have it with a side dish of applesauce.

Leftovers can keep for, I guess, a few days in the fridge.  I wouldn’t know, since I usually finish them off pretty quickly.  If you’re cooking for one like me, a good trick is to have two storage containers ready beside your plate and spoon equal amounts into all three.  That way you’ve got your portions measured handily, and having the hot leftovers in two smaller containers helps them cool off faster so you can get them into the fridge sooner (not a good idea to put hot containers right into the fridge, since it heats up the whole thing).  Plus you can just take out one of the containers and pop it right in the microwave.

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