The Hipster’s Cookbook: The Versatility of Rice


Every Tuesday in The Hipster’s Cookbook, Meghan Bongartz teaches you how to make delicious food for not much money.

When I was in college, my best friend had three Chinese roommates, and their apartment was always stocked with at least one 50 pound bag or rice–usually more. Needless to say, we got used to eating everything with rice (and chopsticks, which they had more of than forks and spoons). No bread for toast? Eggs go on rice. Want carbs with your chicken? Rice works for that. Bored and have nothing else to do? Make a pot of rice–someone will eat it. Leftover rice? Perfect for fried rice.

You’d think that I would have gotten bored with this and stopped eating rice completely after graduation, but I actually just spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that I have to use a fork instead of chopsticks now. Because, you know, buying chopsticks would be so much work. The point is that I still eat my eggs on rice, and I still make stir-fried vegetables at least once a week, and I don’t foresee my stomach growing bored of this anytime soon. I do have an improvement, though.

My current roommate is Peruvian (I know it sounds like I’m searching out foreign people to live with on purpose, but I swear I’m not), and she makes garlic rice that is both addicting and very easy by sautéing garlic in oil and mixing the rice with it before cooking it in exactly the same way as you would normally cook rice. It’s somehow about 10 times more impressive than plain white rice and probably involves about 5 minutes of extra prep time. After a few months of copying the garlic rice recipe, it occurred to me that I could add other things to the rice, too, and this recipe was born.

I’m calling it a risotto, because I think that that’s probably its closest relative, but risottos normally contain lots of butter, wine, and cheese, and this has none of those. You’re welcome to experiment with adding them, but I think it’s plenty flavorful on its own. I’ve been using a basmati and wild rice mixture for this because it was in my pantry and needed to be used, but white rice will work just as well. And, for reference, Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs usually containing some combination of thyme, basil, rosemary, parsley, and sage. If you don’t have it or can’t find it, just use a sprinkling of any of these herbs.


Garden Vegetable Risotto

½ cup English peas

1 tbs olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

5-6 cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

½ cup rice

1 tsp Herbes de Provence

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup vegetable or chicken broth

½ cup water

Lemon to serve

Parsley to serve

1) Fill a small saucepan about halfway with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add peas and cook for 60-90 seconds. Remove immediately from heat and drain.

2) Heat olive oil in the bottom of a medium saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and sauté until it begins to turn transparent. Add mushrooms and carrots and sauté, stirring frequently, 3-4 minutes or until they begin to soften slightly.

3) Add peas, rice, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper, and rice, stirring to combine. Allow to cook until the rice starts to become transparent.

4) Add broth and water and increase heat to bring to a rolling boil. Decrease heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Let rest, covered, for 5 minutes.

5) Fluff with a fork and squeeze fresh lemon juice over before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds awesome…