It is so fun to see the springtime produce in the stores – especially all the lovely green asparagus! In the aftermath of Passover I am always craving grainy carby dishes so here’s a healthier variation on a classic that is surprisingly easy to make. Sub brown rice for the traditional white (I used a short grain sweet brown rice from Lundberg Farms which worked perfectly) and you give it a nice nutty flavor plus all the health benefits of whole grains. Roasting the asparagus brings out its flavors so beautifully, and slow-cooking the rice in veggie broth with periodic stirring gives it a nice creamy texture without the addition of gobs and gobs of butter and cream as they often do in restaurants. Yes, you do end up standing at the stove a bit making this one, but it is easy to multi-task and put together other parts of your meal (a nice green salad, perhaps?) between stirring and adding broth. The results are well worth it! Serves 6.
- 2 cups of short-grain brown rice
- 2 shallots
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
- 1/3 cup sweet white wine
- 1 bunch of asparagus
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 tsp thyme leaves, preferably fresh
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 4 cups of veggie broth, hot
- Fresh ground pepper and sea salt
Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 400F. Chop up your shallots and saute them over medium heat in the Earth Balance mixed with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil – cook, stirring periodically, until translucent.
Add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the thyme leaves and then the rice, stirring the rice until each grain is shiny.
Add the coconut milk and about 1/2 cup of the broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir periodically.
Meanwhile, remove the fibrous ends of the asparagus, and roast in a small foil-lined pan with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Roast for about 10 min until bright green, sizzling and the tips are browning.
Keep adding the broth to the rice in 1/2 cup increments every 5-10 minutes as the liquid gets absorbed. If you want the rice to cook faster you can cheat and cover it for about 10 minutes or so, but the official way to do it is to keep stirring periodically over open heat.
After about 30 min, add the frozen peas and the last of the broth and keep stirring.
Once the broth is almost fully absorbed, slice the roasted asparagus into inch-long pieces and mix in. Cook for another 3-4 minutes until the broth is fully absorbed.