Healthy Cooking Wednesday! Mushroom-Kale Almond Rice

By Chef Lisa on 04/07/2010
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I love leftovers.  They cause magical things to happen.  I will often cook just a little bit extra of whatever I’m making for a meal for the sole purpose of giving me something fun to play with for a later meal.  It follows with the great culinary motto, “Work Smarter, Not Harder!”  Today’s recipe is a magical combination of stuff I just happened to have in the fridge this past Monday when my husband and I needed a veg and a starch to accompany some grilled chicken.

Of course, you can build this pretty side dish from scratch if you are so inspired, but it’s easier if you have some leftover cooked rice and some extra caramelized onions (mine were left from topping some lovely grilled country style ribs) in the fridge.  ALWAYS make extra caramelized onions.  If you can’t hold back and happen to eat them all, it’s okay; I mean, they’re sweet and delicious like candy, but they are, after all, onions.  And if they do make it through the night, they can always find a home in tomorrow’s meal.  I am a fan of keeping toasted almonds on hand, too.  They’re simple to make (bake raw almonds at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes and they’re done), and are a wonderful condiment as well as a healthy snack.

Mushroom-Kale Almond Rice

Serves 2

1 1/2 T olive oil

1 1/2 cup button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 1/2 cups kale, rinsed well and cut into thin ribbons (this is called a chiffonade of kale)

garlic powder (to taste)

dried basil (to taste)

red pepper flakes (to taste, optional)

salt and pepper (to taste)

1/4 cup turkey stock, wine, or water (I keep stock frozen in ice cubes so that whenever the mood strikes me, I can throw a little extra flavor into a dish.  I used two ice cubes for this recipe.)

1 cup cooked brown basmati rice

2 T caramelized onions

1 T crushed toasted almonds

Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat until it’s hot.  Add the olive oil and immediately stir the mushrooms in.  Salt them just a little: this helps the mushrooms release their moisture and sear better.  Then WALK AWAY for about 2 minutes, stir, and leave them alone for a little bit again.  Mushrooms will get a nice sear if you avoid stirring them too frequently.

When the mushrooms are nearly cooked to where you want them, stir in the kale.  Add the garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and stir for about 20 seconds, or until the scent of the toasting herbs and spices wafts up to you.  Throw in the turkey stock (or wine or water) and stir a little.  Spread the kale and mushrooms out in the pan and pile the rice and onions on top without stirring them in just yet.  Allow the pan to sit like this for a minute to ensure the kale is wilting enough, then stir all together.  When the liquid has reduced out, stir in the toasted almonds and serve.

This side dish is perfectly portioned to accompany a protein on your plate, according to the guidelines we recommend at our weight loss retreat for women.  You can view our plate model in this past FitBriefing about healthy portions.

What is your favorite leftover trick?

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