Perk Up Your Plate with Spicy Brown Rice and Snappy Salsa

20“Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go.” ~Erma Bombeck

Before I joined Weight Watchers in October of 2006, boxed rice and pasta mixes were regularly tossed into my shopping cart as an easy side to a meal. Yet, quickly I learned that making my own brown rice had a lot of healthy benefits (not to mention being easier on my budget since I could buy brown rice in bulk which afforded me more fresh produce). While some people can stomach plain brown rice, I tend to favor more flavorful combinations, so quickly I learned to enhance rice side dishes with vegetables and herb and spice combinations.

When I switched to plant-based meal plans a couple of years ago I discovered that my go-to meals would often take inspiration from Mexican dishes. Beans are a huge staple in our house and my favorite way to eat them is to combine them with spicy brown rice, homemade salsa, and guacamole.

Brown rice is very versatile and I like to make the Spicy Brown Rice in bulk. It is wonderful warm, or even cold, as an accompaniment to a salad. Sometimes while it is still warm I fold in chopped spinach or kale, vegetable stock, black beans, and garnish the bowl with a squeeze of lemon and chopped cilantro ~ Voila…a one pot meal that is filling and healthy.

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SPICY BROWN RICE

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (I used chunky Muir Glen. Sometimes I add the entire can if I want extra tomato flavor. You can also add a few fresh chopped tomatoes)

    Homemade Taco Seasoning

    Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 yellow bell pepper (or color of your choice)
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 4 oz can of fire roasted chilis
  • 2 Tablespoons of Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or cooking oil of choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Saute onion, garlic, celery in coconut oil until soft
  2. Add water, rice, and other ingredients

Simmer for approximately 60 minutes until rice is done. Stir often and add extra water if needed. Rendered six cups of rice. Will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

22Snappy Salsa by Produce with AmySNAPPY SALSA (Pico de gallo)

  • 3 large chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Cilantro chopped (to taste. I added 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 lime (juice and zest)
  • 1/2 finely chopped jalapeno (To taste. Sometimes I add extra if I want my salsa to have a kick)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all the ingredients.
  2. The salsa gets more flavorful as the ingredients mingle so it is a good idea to make a few hours in advance.
  3. You can drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.

When I make salsa, I normally do not measure and simply toss in the ingredients. Sometimes I add chopped parsley, avocado, mango, and I have even added pineapple for a sweet and savory taste. The salsa gets very juicy and this week when we finished off the salsa I reserved the juice and added extra ingredients for another batch. I cannot get enough of this salsa.

We enjoyed this salsa this past week with blue corn tortilla chips and homemade guacamole.

We enjoyed this salsa this past week with blue corn tortilla chips and homemade guacamole.

My husband Mike topped the mini-tortilla pizzas I made with fresh salsa.

My husband Mike topped the mini-tortilla pizzas I made with fresh salsa.

In addition to the Spicy Brown Rice and Snappy Salsa, I am addicted to guacamole. In a previous blog post, Layered Refried Bean and Guacamole Dip, I shared a simple recipe for guacamole. This week I left out the Vegan sour cream and taco seasoning and add extra lime and a dash of cumin instead. While my favorite way to eat guacamole is with tortilla chips, I often use fresh chopped vegetables as dippers for a healthier option.

Eating healthy does not have to translate to bland food if you get creative with ingredients. I will continue to share my different flavor combinations for brown rice and other side dishes. Here is a link to my Pinterest board if you are interested in pinning any of my recipes: Produce with Amy.

With summer in full swing I hope you are enjoying the abundance of produce at the grocery store and at your community farmers markets. Thank you for reading my blog and stay tuned for more fruit and vegetable rich recipes. Together we will reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. ❤

I LOVE avocado. As I have said in an earlier post, I could eat cardboard if it had a smear of avocado on it.

I LOVE avocado. As I have said in an earlier post, I could eat cardboard if it had a smear of avocado on it.

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Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Dressing

12Cilantro is an annual member of the carrot family that has been grown for thousands of years. It is popular in South American, Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean dishes. The leaves are used as seasonings in salsas, guacamole, grain salads. The seed is called coriander. Unripened, it has a citrusy flavor and can be used like fennel as a breath freshener, or as a flavoring for fish dishes. The ripened coriander is milder and is used in pickles, curries, bakery, sorbet, etc. The root is also added to curries, and the stems to bean dishes. The oil from the seed is used in perfumes, toothpastes, liquors and massage oils.
~ How To Garden Advice .Com

Cilantro tends to be a herb that people either love or hate. Personally, I love the bright green flavor that cilantro brings to meals and I add it to salsa, salads, guacamole, garnish soups, and I even enjoy it blended into my green smoothies.11

One of my goals this summer was to come up with recipes for salad dressings. Homemade vinaigrette is simple to throw together, composed of common staples, and is free of additives and preservatives. Also, in the summer I have easy access to fresh herbs outside in my container garden. My Orange Dill Vinaigrette Dressing was a hit so I thought that I would experiment with cilantro.

When it comes to salad dressing I tend to really like it to be tangy. On the rare occasion when I purchase bottled dressing I cut half of the bottle with lemon and vinegar. Therefore, if you do not prefer your dressing on the tart side, you may want to make some adjustments to my recipe. I used raw apple cider vinegar in the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette that I made today. I find that raw apple cider vinegar does have quite a sharp taste to it so if you want a dressing with less tang you could use a milder vinegar. Rice vinegar tends to be less acidic and balsamic vinegar is much sweeter (if you use an aged balsamic vinegar you might want to use some water to thin it a bit. White balsamic vinegar is also a great choice). I keep the oil to a minimum in my vinaigrette to keep it waist line friendly and you could add extra oil to make the vinegar less pungent. The addition of sugar or Stevia would also balance out the tangy vinegar. Taste as you blend the dressing (I like to use pieces of celery to dip in the blender) and tweak and satisfy your taste buds.

If you want a creamy dressing you can take a serving of the Cilantro Lime Dressing and mix it with a Tablespoon or two of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt. I tried this method with Vegan sour cream, added a dash of hot sauce, and served it over cold black beans and tomatoes for dinner and thought it provided a fantastic taste explosion.

Olive oil, lime, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and onion.

Olive oil, lime, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and onion.

CILANTRO LIME VINAIGRETTE DRESSING

  • 141/2-1 cup of vinegar of choice (add a little at a time and taste as you go to decide how much vinegar your tastebuds enjoy)
  • 1 lime (juice and zest)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons onion
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like spice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

VitamixBlend ingredients well and pour into a shakeable cruet or jar in the refrigerator. Your vinaigrette should keep for several weeks (if it lasts that long).

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This afternoon for lunch I had the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette on a taco salad that had black beans, homemade salsa and guacamole, and spicy brown rice. It was very satisfying and 16the salad was so huge I could not finish it all so I wrapped a portion and put it in the refrigerator. Tonight when I ate the salad I found that the flavors had mingled well and I cannot wait to have the dressing again tomorrow.

Not only would it make a great dressing for green salads but this summer dressing would be great drizzled over roasted or grilled vegetables, to dress corn and tomato salad, to flavor black beans, sprinkled over tacos, and even as a flavor enhancement for fresh salsa and guacamole.

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If you are interested in other salad dressing recipes, previously I posted my two recipes for plant-based Tangy Ranch and Zesty Avocado. You can find this and other recipes on Pinterest.

I hope you enjoy the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Dressing. Please leave a comment and join the conversation by “liking” my Produce with Amy Facebook group. Recipe reviews are always appreciated and it is helpful for me to learn what recipes people are interested in. I love being able to help others maximize their health and productivity by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. Cheers to additive and preservative free salad dressing, summer herb gardens, and thriving!

Click on image for a larger version.

Click on image for a larger version.