There are few foods that can claim to be more important than rice. It’s estimated that over 3.5 billion people around the world depend on the grain for 20% of their daily calories. That’s a whopping number of curries, chillies and risottos that we dine on day in, day out.
However, for all the rice we enjoy, we sometimes don’t show it the respect it deserves. Excess grains get consigned to the recycling bin or washed down the sink all too easily, wasting what is one of the most flexible building blocks in all of cooking. To help you make the most of your leftovers, here are a few recipes to put your remaining rice to good use.
It can be easy to look at the sticky scraps at the bottom of a risotto pan and move onto meals new. As any Italian will tell you, this means missing out on one of the world’s great street food snacks. Arancini are balls of risotto rice, usually stuffed with cheese, paned, fried and served as bite sized snacks or starters. Any risotto will work as a base, all you need is mozzarella, egg and breadcrumbs to get started.
2. Egg fried rice
Any Asian traditionalist cook will tell you that all the best fried rice recipes are made with rice that was boiled at least 24 hours before frying. If you make the mistake of frying fresh from the water, the result will be soggy, rather than satisfyingly chewy grains. For a basic egg fried rice, simply heat sesame oil in a wok, season the grains with sugar, soy sauce and a selection of spices and add to the pan, before carving out a hollow and pouring in a whisked egg. Cook the egg through, before breaking it up and mixing it through the rest of the dish. Dinner is served.
For some, the idea of rice for breakfast may be a bridge too far. However, as this Southeast Asian specialty proves, the reality is absolutely delicious. Traditionally made with chicken broth, old rice is slowly boiled until it reaches the consistency of oatmeal. This nourishing comfort food classic is so good that it is often served to sick patients as the ultimate way to rebuild strength.
Rice porridge isn’t the only breakfast possibility for your leftovers. If you’re feeling particularly decadent, this classic cajun recipe is an awesome way to wake up on the right side of the bed. Featuring cooked rice, flour, sugar and a selection of spices, these deep fried fritters are a sweet and spicy way to start the day.
5. Vine Leaves
If you’re looking for a selection of tasty treats to kickstart a meal, it’s tough to beat Greek meze. While hummus, taramasalata et al are all awesome, if you want to add an authentic twist to your spread with rice at the centre, stuffed vine leaves are the only way to go. A mixture of onions, lemons, herbs and seasonings all mixed with rice and wrapped in a dark green leaf, this is finger food at its finest.
6. Rice Pudding
There’s no reason at all why rice should be limited to savoury serving suggestions. Rice pudding is one of the easiest ways to turn scraps into a hearty and frugal crowd-pleasing dessert that couldn’t be more straightforward to make. A basic recipe calls for boiled rice, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and takes no more than 15 minutes to cook.
There are literally thousands of ways that cooks can turn rice into a range of tasty treats. But, as we’ve just seen, the fun doesn’t stop after just one meal. If there’s one food that you should never throw away, clearly, it’s rice.