Friday, February 13, 2009

Cooking what's on hand

One of the stories my friend and good cook Al always tried to get me to do is making a meal from what's in the fridge. Since I cook a lot, I do that a lot. Not every night lends itself to blow-out meals, and trying to creatively combine what needs to be used before it spoils (with a little help from pantry items) is a joyful exercise for me.

Last night, it was the hummus that was on the verge of spoilage. It was a red pepper hummus, which seems to have a shorter shelf life than the regular. So a quick peek as to what's on hand and I came up with the following dish, which my husband couldn't say enough about as he polished it off.

Lori K's fast brown rice and artichokes bake

1 bag Success brown rice (see note)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 14-ounce can artichokes (8-10 count), drained
1 tablespoon butter
4 ounces red pepper hummus
Chicken broth
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the bag of rice in a saucepan and cover with water. (If you like your rice salty, put a teaspoon of salt in, too.) Bring to a boil, then keep on low for 10 minutes. Drain.
In a heavy medium-size skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Mix the crumbs and seasoning in a small paper bag.  Put the artichokes in the bag, two at a time, and shake until they are well-coated. Put on a plate and repeat until they are all breaded. Add the butter to the skillet, and when it is melted, put in the artichokes. Saute until browned on all sides.
Thin the hummus with a little chicken broth until it is the consistency of gravy.
Put the drained rice in a small casserole dish or pie plate. Pour the hummus gravy over it.
Arrange the sauteed artichokes on top, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serve.

Note: The hummus, rice and cheese combine to provide a complete protein in this dish. You can use regular brown rice, but allow 40-50 minutes extra for it to cook. Unlike Success white rice, which takes almost as long as regular rice to prepare (with half the taste), its brown rice is an incredible timesaver and tastes pretty good, too.

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