When people hear that I try to cook for my family 5 out of 7 nights, they almost always ask the same question; “how do you get meals ready on those hectic school/practice/work nights?!!!” Trust me, it didn’t happen over night, and it really does take a little bit of meal planning on the weekends – but it’s really cooking smarter, not harder! Other than planning out my meals, I have two things up my sleeve that really are key to getting healthy, and quick home cooked meals on the table during the busy week: 1) you really have to have a well stocked pantry and 2) take a little help from the grocery store!!! Now by that, I don’t mean running to Harris Teeter 5 nights of the week to grab stuff from the deli or a rotisserie chicken every other night. I mean, finding those gems that you stock up on during your big grocery day for those nights when all you have time to do, is throw a few ingredients together.
So here’s the thing, I L-O-V-E, LOVE me some Trader Joe’s!!! If you’re not a big TJ shopper, you need to reacquaint yourself with them because that place is FILLED to the brim with quick meal “helpers”. Trust me, I could go on and on about all of the hidden treasures that TJ’s has to offer (and I will, but that’s another blog for another day ;o), but the one I want to focus on today is their Organic Jasmine rice that you’ll find in their freezer section. Y’all, if you haven’t picked up one of these bad boys, you are missing out! In three minutes flat, you perfectly cooked jasmine rice, as well as the beginnings to a plethora of “short-cut” meals!!! You name it; it’s done in a snap!!! Fried rice, quick side for yummy chili, rice casseroles, baked rice balls (stupid good by the way), a quick week-night paella …the list goes on and on, and all made simple by adding this one little weeknight helper!
My “Emerald Studded Rice” is one side dish that (no joke) you can get on the table in under 15 minutes. So in about the time it takes for you to bake a frozen pizza, you can serve your family this delicious and healthy rice dish with your favorite grilled or broiled fish…chicken…you name it! I love to make this with grilled or broiled tilapia. Another favorite is honey-lime marinated chicken breasts that I just throw in the oven and are done by the time I get the rice into the serving dish! Trust me, if your family likes rice (esp fried rice), give this one a try…you won’t be sorry! And BONUS, if your kids won’t touch something with green in it, it will only take you 3 more minutes to “cook” up another bag of perfectly fluffy jasmine rice ;o)
The ingredients: TJ’s Jasmine Rice, Green Onions (scallions), Curly Leafed Kale, Garlic, Low-Sodium Soy Sauce, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Rice Vinegar (forgot to add that one the main pic, so here you go ;o).
Alright, first things first…let’s get that rice going! Put one 10-oz bag of the rice on a glass plate in the microwave for 3 minutes – let it chill out on the microwave while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Make sure to wash your kale reeeaally well – no one wants to bite into a piece of sand, and kale can be full of sand! The best way to clean kale (in my own humble opinion) is to simply get the biggest pot you have, fill it with fresh cool water, throw all of your kale in it, slosh it around a bit and leave it alone while you put the rest of your groceries away. All of the grit will fall to the bottom of the pot, so all you have to do is pull out the kale, give it a quick rinse, shake off excess water, wrap it in paper towel, throw it in a zip-lock baggie and it’s ready when you are! TIP – make sure to pull the kale out of the water…do NOT pour the kale and water into a colander! If you do…all of the yucky grit will just fall right back onto your clean kale! You laugh, but I have seen it done, so…you’ve been warned ;o)
Back to the recipe! Discard the woodsy stems, and mince the kale well. Here’s how I do it:
Next, mince your green onions finely. I like to use the green and most of the white. For the green bit, I cut each scallion in half (length wise), and then finely chop until I get to the white bit. I cut the white bit lengthwise, turn and cut lengthwise again (so quarter it lengthwise), then gather and mince that finely. Like the kale, make sure to wash the green onions well, as gritty sand loves to hide inside of green onions. I give it a quick rinse under cool water after each long cut, before mincing. Discard the last ¼ or so of the green onion.
Now it’s time to put it all together!! In a small bowl, combine the low sodium soy sauce and rice vinegar and set aside. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the extra virgin olive oil over med-low heat (you don’t want it too hi or the garlic will burn and be bitter) then add the garlic – cook just until you really start to smell the garlic (approx 2 minutes) stirring well. Next, add the green onions and kale and turn the heat up to medium/ med-hi, and stir well (a spatula works great here) to incorporate the veggies with the garlic and olive oil.
You’ll want to cook it just until the kale turns a vibrant green color (about 2 mins), and then add the cooked rice and mix the rice and veggie mixture well to really combine everything. Once it’s all been incorporated, add the soy sauce and rice vinegar mixture, stir well again, turn off the heat and tumble it all out into your serving dish.
I like this best served at room temperature so it gives all of the flavors a bit of time to mingle together. So while it’s cooling a bit in the serving bowl, you can get your chicken or fish out of the oven and onto the plates! Enjoy!!!
Emerald Studded Rice
– 1 – 10 oz pouch of Trader Joes Organic Jasmine Rice prepared OR 2 C cooked white rice
– 4 leaves Curly Leafed Kale, stems discarded and finely minced
– 3 Green Onions (scallions), finely minced (green and most of white-discard the last ¼ or so)
– 1 large clove of Garlic, grated or very finely minced
– 2 TBS LOW-Sodium soy sauce
– *1 heaping TBS Rice Vinegar (I love the ‘Sushi Chef’ brand with the black label from HT)
– 1 ½ TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* I really love the sweet/sour kick that the rice vinegar gives this dish, but don’t NOT (sorry about the double negative) make this rice because you don’t have any – by all means, substitute with red wine vinegar. I will say, if you’ve never tried Rice Vinegar, pick a bottle up the next time you’re at Harris Teeter! It keeps for a loooong time, and from marinades and salad dressings to the best ever-homemade Ponzu sauce, you’ll use this one over and over (especially if you keep checking CSP Cooking School for more recipes! I promise you’ll see this ingredient again ;o)