If you are like me and so many families I know, and you feel pressed for time and you need a quick and healthy meal for your family then you really should consider Minute Rice.
On Thursday evening I was invited (via webcast) to see Chef John Higgins, Director of Toronto-based George Brown Chef School – Canada’s leading chef school and one of the top culinary schools in North America – whip up a selection of creative and very flavourful dishes using Minute Rice as the key ingredient.
During his cooking demo, Chef John Higgins called instant rice “one of the simplest go-to ingredients that can be used to quickly and easily whip up creative, family-friendly meals – even desserts.”
Before we talk about the creative dishes that Chef Higgins put together, there are a few things I learned from Chef Higgins about Minute Rice. First, the instant rice is just as nutritious as long cook rice because the reality is, Minute Rice IS a long grain rice. It is very quick and easy for the home cook to prepare because the Minute Rice is simply pre-cooked, and then dried. That process significantly cuts down on the time you need to spend cooking it.
It is interesting to note that Minute Rice has one ingredient – “pre-cooked rice”. And, it is also important to note that Minute Rice is 100% natural and Non-GMO Project Verified (nongmoproject.org).
If you are one of “them” – the people who prefer brown rice – Minute Rice has an option for you! Or, if you are like me and you like long grain white rice, their Premium Long Grain white rice takes only five minutes to prepare.
So about those dishes that Chef Higgins created: Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf, Wheat-Free Rice Crust Pizza, One-Pan Taco Dinner and his dessert option – Pear and Cranberry Rice Pudding With Chocolate Crunchies.
I have to say that my favourite and the first one that I will be making in the test kitchen will be the the all-natural and easy “Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf” dish that takes only 10 minutes to prepare for the oven (see recipe below).
Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 20 min
- Servings: 6
- 2 cups (500 ml) Minute Rice® Instant Premium Long Grain White Rice
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) grated Parmesan cheese, good quality, if possible
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
- 2 bunches green onions, chopped
- 1 pkg (10 oz/300 g) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed well to remove liquid
- 2 cloves (5 g) garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) light ricotta or cottage cheese
- 1 cup (200 g) zucchini, sliced
- 1 jar (24 oz/700 ml) prepared marinara or home-made pasta sauce
- 2 cups (500 ml) shredded low fat Mozzarella cheese
- 2 (145g) tomatoes, sliced
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Prepare rice according to package directions. Stir in the parmesan cheese and reserve.
- Place 15 ml of the olive oil in a warm pan, then add the chopped green onions, followed by the spinach, and season with garlic. Cook for one minute. Add salt and pepper, then allow to cool. Mix with ricotta cheese until combined – but be sure you don’t beat the spinach and ricotta mixture into baby food. Be gentle.
- Place the rest of the olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add the sliced zucchini. Cook for 10 seconds on each side. Season to taste. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil and allow to cool.
- Spoon ¼ cup (60 ml) of the marinara sauce into a greased 8-inch (2L) square baking dish (what I call a loaf pan). Gently press half of the rice into the baking dish in an even layer; sprinkle with ½ cup (125 ml) mozzarella cheese. Spread half of the spinach mixture over the cheese.
- Top with half of the tomato and zucchini slices, overlapping as needed. Spoon half of the remaining marinara sauce over the slices. Repeat the layers, ending with the sauce.
- Sprinkle evenly with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.
“When time is an issue, instant rice is an excellent solution for busy parents and people in a rush,” said Chef Higgins, who is also a judge on the Food Network’s Chopped Canada and former personal chef for the Queen Mother.
My next blog post will be Chef John Higgins’ top 10 rice cooking tops and the blog post after that will be a giveaway hosted by Minute Rice.