12 Things To With The Ultimate Pantry Staple

If there's a poster ingredient for this period of intensive home cooking that we're in, it might be . I'm all for this, and as someone who's been evangelizing for cooking dried beans from scratch forever, I hope this is one of the habits that persists long after things have returned to "normal" (whatever that looks like).

What doesn't totally make sense to me is that while beans are getting their fifteen minutes, rice (which normally gets top billing) is receiving much less attention. Maybe it's because most people cook rice more frequently than dried beans, and because there's not a convenience-food alternative to dried rice (including the microwavable "instant" kind) that's as ubiquitous as canned beans.

Whatever. The reason isn't really important. What matters is that in cultures across the world, rice is perhaps the king of all pantry staples, and if there was ever a time to celebrate a cheap, widely accessible, shelf-stable ingredient that can be cooked a million different ways, it's now.

To narrow our scope a little bit here, I'm focusing on brown rice (and 12 different recipes you can make with it). When I ate my first bowl of it back in 1969, brown rice was exclusively "hippie" food. Not anymore. People have come to appreciate it not only as a healthier alternative to white rice (brown rice is hulled but not stripped of its bran layers), but as something delicious in its own right.

Like white rice, all brown rice must be cooked in liquid, but depending on timing and ratio of rice to liquid — plus, of course, what you add to it — the final dish will vary considerably. The 12 recipes below (separated into four categories) reflect this versatility.

Add water to cover by about an inch and a pinch of salt to long-grain brown rice, cover, simmer until the rice is tender and dry and you have the perfect base for a hearty salad. Sauté the rice in oil or butter before adding liquid, and you have pilaf. (The toasting results in perfectly fluffy, separate, flavorful grains.) Cook it long enough for some starch to release, and you have the foundation of a creamy, luxurious stew. Or take that starchy rice, chill it, mix in any number of flavorings, form them into cakes, and griddle them until crisp.

I promise, you won't even miss the beans.



Talk To Me, Goose!

Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.