Taming Brown Rice

Times Staff Writer

There's nothing like the rich, nutty flavor of traditional brown rice. But the directions on most packages say to cook it 45 minutes to an hour.

One day when I was in a hurry, I tried an experiment. I cooked brown basmati rice, which is available in most markets, for 25 to 30 minutes.

I liked it better that way. It had a slight chewiness that was a nice contrast to the vegetables of this stew--which contains no meat, but you don't miss it--and it readily absorbed the vegetarian "gravy."

To cook the rice, bring 2 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Stir in 1 cup of brown basmati rice and salt to taste. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender and all of the water has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.

Vietri platter from Salutations Home stores in Brentwood and Pasadena.

Autumn Vegetable Stew

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Vegetarian

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 large onion

2 large carrots

1 small head broccoli

1 large zucchini

3 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons flour

1 (6-ounce) package sliced mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Salt, pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cooked brown basmati rice

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Chop the onion and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.

While the onion cooks, peel and thinly slice the carrots, cut the broccoli into florets (if the florets are large, cut them in half), cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut it in 1/2-inch slices. Mince the garlic.

Add the flour to the pan and cook, stirring, until it forms a paste, about 2 minutes.

Add the carrots, broccoli, zucchini, garlic and mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the thyme, vegetable broth and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender and a gravy has formed, about 15 minutes. Serve over brown basmati rice and garnish with the chopped parsley.

2 servings. Each serving: 361 calories; 880 mg sodium; 17 mg cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 51 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams protein; 9.91 grams fiber.

MENU

Autumn Vegetable Stew

Brown Basmati Rice

STAPLES

Butter

Carrots

Flour

Garlic

Onion

Oil

Parsley

Dried thyme

Vegetable broth

SHOPPING LIST

Broccoli

Brown basmati rice

1 (6-ounce) package sliced mushrooms

Zucchini

COUNTDOWN

30 minutes before: Start rice. Melt butter and oil, chop onion.

25 minutes before: Slice carrots and zucchini, cut up broccoli, mince garlic.

20 minutes before: Add vegetables to pan.

15 minutes before: Cook stew until vegetables are tender.

Just before serving: Garnish with parsley.

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