I stayed up too late editing these photos last night and woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Self-doubt crept in overnight; I was suffering from a bad case of not enoughs. Fortunately, I’ve learned to surround myself with wonderful friends and family members who confirm that I am “plenty”—plenty pretty, thin, productive, smart, talented, whatever.
I’m not seeking affirmation or fishing for compliments; I only bring the subject up because I know a lot of girls like me, especially us perfectionists, suffer from these debilitating feelings from time to time. I could go on about societal pressures, the media and the fact that my lifestyle of plenty leaves me with enough time and energy to devote to such unhealthy thoughts, but I’ll stop here.
So today, when I was feeling very much not enough, I was glad to hear that my friend Emily could meet me for lunch. We’re starting a weekly tradition of driving or biking to lunch together on Wednesdays. We pretend that we’re “ladies who lunch” for an hour or two and leisurely enjoy a good meal (and perhaps a drink) at a local establishment. It’s really nice to look forward to lunch with one of my favorite people in the middle of the week.
You’ll probably want to make this baked rice dish for dinner, too. It’s everything that I want my recipes to be: flavorful, healthful, versatile, unfussy and satisfying. It’s a one-pot meal that does take some time to cook, but it’s not complicated and a guaranteed winner.
I bought The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook a couple of months ago and dog-eared a ton of recipes, but this is the first one I’ve actually made. It was such a success that I’m eager to try more. I love reading the Test Kitchen’s explanations of how and why they determined the best techniques for cooking things, too. They say it’s best to bake brown rice because the tough coating of the bran makes it difficult for liquid to permeate the grain, which leads to uneven cooking. Baking rice provides greater temperature control and steady, even heat, which means that you’re going to get consistently great rice every time.
I loved the creamy (but not mushy) texture of the baked rice; combined with Parmesan, it’s almost as comforting as a risotto. It’s a feel-good meal that makes plenty. No matter which herbs or vegetables you decide to add, please enjoy it with a friend, family or at least a sweet furry companion like Cookie.
Perfect Baked Rice with Herbs and Veggies
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Side dish
This baked rice recipe requires little prep time, but does need time to cook and bake. It’s worth the wait! The recipe is also highly adaptable: think cilantro, black beans, and cherry tomatoes for a Mexican-inspired version, or roasted red peppers, sliced kalamata olives, and feta or goat cheese for a Mediterranean style. Beans definitely make it feel more substantial; this version was mighty tasty with leftover Great Northern beans. Depending on your chosen ingredients, try adding lemon zest or balsamic vinegar for more kick.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ¼ cups water
- 1 cup veggie broth (or an additional cup of water)
- 1 ½ cups long grain brown rice, rinsed and drained (I used half brown basmati rice and half wild rice, both long grain)
- ¾ cup roasted red pepper, chopped
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 small bunch curly parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- salt and pepper
- Make sure your oven rack is in the middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes, then add the minced garlic. Cook for another 2 to 4 minutes, until the onions are well browned.
- Add the water and broth (optional), cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in the rice. Cover and bake until the rice is tender and cooked through, about 65 to 70 minutes. Near the end of the baking time, prepare the veggies (chop the parsley and red pepper, etc.)
- Remove the pot from the oven, uncover and fluff the rice with a fork. Expect that some of the rice will be stuck to the sides/bottom of the pot; just use a big wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the rice in with the rest.
- Mix in the veggies, herbs, cheese and lemon juice. Place a clean, folded kitchen towel over the top of the Dutch oven and cover. This helps absorb excess moisture. 10 minutes later, season with salt and pepper and serve!
Recipe adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.
Special equipment: A medium Dutch oven (I love my Le Creuset, a very worthy investment).
Change it up: You may substitute short grain brown rice for the long grain.
Make it vegan: Simply skip the Parmesan cheese.
This looks delicious! I love rice dishes. Your photography is lovely. Thanks for sharing!
a) I AGREE with every single word.
b) I LOVE ATK! And of course Chris’ bow tie.
c) I’d never thought of baking the rice. So, so so trying this.
Ha… sometimes I wonder if you and I are the same person as I had lunch with a friend today as well that helped pull me out of a funk!
I also whole heartily agree about not dismissing actual compliments- it’s so easy to think “oh thanks, but you don’t really mean that.” Even on tough issues we’re never alone!
(Ps- love the rice!)
I think it is so common for women to dismiss real compliments. I’m trying to get better at just saying, “Thank you!” and accepting it for what it is.
You ARE enough. And you are NOT alone. I’m glad you have a lady who lunches. My closest lady friends, the ones who really know me, are splattered all over the country right now. And you’re right, it seems silly some days to find ourselves concerned with such critique, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s still painful and confusing. Hug from California :)
Thanks for the sweet comment, Kelsey. You’re so right. My closest lady friends are all over the country, too, from Dallas to Minneapolis and Los Angeles to Chapel Hill. I miss them dearly but I’m glad I still have a few lady friends to lunch with around here!
I love pretending to be a lady who lunches! It’s the best, and really is good for the soul. I definitely get plenty of cases of the “not good enoughs” and it’s nice to have friends and good food to pick you back up. This looks deeeelicious and comforting and I can’t wait to try it! ps, you’re awesome (I know you weren’t fishing for anything, just wanted to add that bit for good measure :-) )
Thanks for sharing, eventhough I really don’t want anyone to feel ‘not enough’, it’s good to now that I am not alone. We are enough!
Baking rice sounds really interesting, now I really have to get myself a Dutch oven.
The photos here are so pretty! This rice dish sounds delicious! Yum.
This looks so good… and I’m excited to try a new method of cooking brown rice! I hate those stupid, self-defeating thoughts of “not enough.” Thankfully, I have become much better at squelching those thoughts through the years, but when they come up, it’s always good to have suggestions for how to make them go away. Lunching with friends is a good one!
the rice looks absolutely gorgeous .. and all the veggies and flavors! gorgeous clicks!
Interesting that you posted this at the same time I and a lot of other folks I know have been in rather funky moods– something in the air?? You are so right that having a good dose of good food and good company is a perfect antidote. Loved this post and love the recipe– thanks for sharing both.
I get those anxieties from time to time too. Having good friends and good food always helps. Stay positive, as this too shall pass. You are beyond good enough, you are great. You are creative, smart and make some of the best food porn I know.
Thanks, Kris! I like to hear that I’m creative and smart but especially that I’m a purveyor of top notch food porn. ;)
Inspiring words Kate. And this sounds so good! Especially those roasted peppers.
I’m a fan of ATK recipes, too. This looks like the kind of dish that makes perfect leftovers for lunch. I’ll have to try it.
Jay @ LocalFood.me
This looks fragrant and savory! Love the photo of the Dutch oven. Feels “lived in” in a great way. Cheers!
This looks really flavorful and yummy… I have never really used black rice so it would be interesting.
I too suffer from perfectionism. And it creeps in at the most unassuming times and tells me I’m not good enough. It’s a messy cycle, especially when I try to define myself by my successes or lack thereof. I think you are one very talented and super cool lady! And since I’ve met you in person, this holds big time weight :) Thanks for this post.
Thanks for the sweet comment, Melissa! It means a lot. I’m so glad we got to meet up while I was in Chicago. Next time you’re in OKC, let me know! :)
I had numerous kitchen disasters involving brown rice. I think this is the best recipe to redeem myself. =)
I am thinking black beans, tomatoes and peppers too. Thanks for the gleam of hope…Great post!
This recipe is fantastic!!! I have always cooked rice on the stove, but baking it makes it soooo much better. I added pesto and fire roasted tomatoes and it was heaven. Thank you for posting wonderful recipes.
Thank you, Alessandra! I’m really glad you enjoyed the recipe. I’ll have to try it with pesto and tomatoes, I have no doubt it’s amazing that way!
I just made this tonight and it was so good! Definitely a keeper, and I sense tomorrow’s leftover lunch will taste even better. A great dish to make in bulk and use during the week. Incredibly low fuss, the only hard part is waiting for it to come out of the oven!
Thanks, Anna! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
Looks awesome…if one doesn’t have a Dutch oven, would it work to transfer everything from a skillet to a baking dish? Thanks :)
Hi Lauren, that might work. You would need to cover the baking dish during cooking. I wish I could tell you for sure!
The only way I cook rice now! I use Lundberg’s wild rice blend. Instead of vege broth, chicken or mushroom, & bake it in a #29 oval Le Creuset dutch oven. It’s perfection! This the third time tonight. I have some basil pesto in the fridge so I’ll add that along with the parmesan. Thank you for a great recipe!
I love to hear that, Nanette! I appreciate your review.