Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Southwestern Rice Casserole

This casserole makes a nice side dish, or turn it into a vegetarian meal by serving a more substantial portion and topping it with fresh crumbled queso fresco or goat cheese. For a milder version, leave out the green chile pepper. If, on the contrary, you want to heat things up, replace it with a jalapeño pepper. Remember to wear disposable gloves or wash your hands thoroughly in hot, soapy water after handling any hot pepper.

I must add a note about chile powder vs. chili powder: yes, they are different and no, they can not really be substituted.
          Chile powder is made from dried, ground chiles only. Depending on what pepper it is made from, it can be mild or very hot. For instance, chipotle powder (made from smoke-dried jalapeños) definitely has a nice kick. Ancho powder (made from poblano peppers) is another kind of chile powder. Its mild, yet smokey flavor makes it my go-to chile powder. For my European readers who may have a hard time finding ancho powder, you can substitute “poivre de cayenne” but since it's much hotter, use only ¼ teaspoon (c.à.c).
          Chili powder is basically chile powder with additional spices and herbs such as cayenne, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt. It is commonly used to make chili con carne.
In this recipe, you could substitute the '1-2 tsp. chile powder + 1 tsp. cumin' for 2-3 tsp. chili powder. It will alter the taste a bit but it will still work.

Makes 6 to 10 servings
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice = 350 g de riz complet
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil = 1 cuillère à soupe d'huile d'olive
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped = 4 gousses d'ail, hachées
  • 1 sweet onion, diced = 1 oignon, émincé
  • 2 sweet bell pepper (any color), chopped = 2 poivrons, coupés en petits morceaux
  • ¾ cup corn kernels = 75 g de maïs frais
  • 1 fresh green chile pepper, seeded and chopped (optional) = 1 petit piment vert, graines retirées et coupé en petits morceaux
  • Juice from 1 lime = jus d'un citron vert
  • Sea salt, to taste = sel
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons (ancho) chile powder = 1 à 2 cuillères à café de piment (ancho) en poudre
  • 1 teaspoon cumin = 1 cuillère à café de cumin
  • a dash of cinnamon = une pincée de cannelle en poudre
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro = 2 cuillères à soupe de coriandre fraiche, ciselée
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes, diced = 3 ou 4 tomates, coupées en dés

Cook 2 cups of brown rice in 4 ½ to 5 cups water.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, sweet bell peppers, corn kernels and green chile pepper if using. Stir-fry for five minutes. Remove from heat, add salt to taste and top with lime juice. Stir and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C.

Add seasonings (salt, chile powder, cumin and cinnamon) and chopped fresh cilantro to the cooked rice. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and the stir-fried vegetables. Toss to combine (add a little olive oil if you find the rice mixture too dry) and spoon into a casserole dish.

Cover and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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