Saving Money at the Grocery Store Begins with a Pot of Rice
Tomorrow I’m presenting a class at Erie Community Library: “How to Cut Costs at the Grocery Store. . . but not Flavor, Nutrition or Fun.” One key strategy: scouting out opportunities where you could do for yourself and save money–without too much extra effort. Brown rice is a perfect example.
Making rice from the bulk aisle requires no more prep time than a box of rice mix or instant rice. (The longer cooking time is easily remedied by cooking it the one or two nights in advance–or by freezing extra portions for nights when you’re in a hurry.) However, as a previous post revealed, we pay a threefold markup when someone else precooks, seasons and boxes up our rice in single meal portions. (It could even be closer to fourfold, because home made brown rice is so much denser and nutrient packed than instant–which makes it stretch further.)
A lot of good these money-savings are, however, if you have no idea what to do with rice. Over the years, I’ve found dozens and dozens of uses for brown rice, to the point where I always keep a pot of cooked rice in the frig. It easily lasts a week and provides an excellent launching pad for fast, healthy and delicious meals, like Rice Crust Pizza.
A brown rice crust is far healthier than the usual refined white-flour crust–and it’s quite easy to make, taking about 5 minutes. It can then be topped with anything you’d put on a flour crust. For a unique twist, this recipe uses Ciolo Foods‘ Roasted Red Pepper Pesto instead of regular pizza sauce, demonstrating another cost saver: Buy a couple, high-impact specialty foods and use them to jazz up a meal made with inexpensive ingredients like rice, chard and onions. Because they are feature strong flavors, only small amounts are needed. My $5.49 tub seemed expensive–until I saw how its concentrated flavors stretched across three meals! A great investment for fast, flavorful meals that made us feel like we were eating at a chic bistro!
Rice Crust Pizza with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto, Chard and Caramelized Onions
Make the “Crust”
- 1 lrg. egg
- 1/4 cup milk or soy milk
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried leaf basil
- 1/4 tsp. each, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 2 cups lightly packed, cooked brown rice
Crack egg into a medium-sized bowl and beat lightly, then beat in milk, basil, salt and pepper. Add rice and stir gently to combine everything thoroughly, being sure to break up any clumps of rice.
Lightly oil a 9″ pie pan. Pour in rice mixture and use a large spoon to spread evenly across bottom of pan and up sides of pan a half inch or so. Preheat oven to 350 (F), then bake crust about 10-12 minutes, until eggs are cooked through (a sharp knife inserted into the middle will come out clean when done.)
While oven is preheating and crust is cooking, prepare topping:
- 1 large red or yellow onion, sliced 1/4″ thick, then cut into 2″ strips
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lrg. bunch chard
- 1/2 lb. ground chicken or turkey (omit for vegetarian option)
Ina large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat until an onion sizzles when added. Add onions and cook, stirring occassionally, until lightly browned. While onions cook, pull stems from chard, slice 1/4″ thick, then stir in and cook with onions.
Once onions are browned, add chicken or turkey, breaking it up into small pieces with the end of spatula as it cooks. While meat cooks, pile up chard leaves and cut roughtly into 2″ squares. Wash and spin dry in salad spinner to minimize moisture. When meat is almost done, stir in chard leaves and cook, stirring every minute or so, until chard is wilted through and any water has evaporated.
Assemble the Pizza
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup Ciolo Foods Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (more or less, to taste)
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese or 1-2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
Remove cooked crust from oven and spread pesto evenly over top. Spread cooked onion, chard and chicken mixture evenly over pesto. Bake 5-7 minutes, then remove, top with cheese and bake another 3-5 minutes to meld flavors and melt cheese. Serve immediately.
1. Ciolo Foods” Pesto Sold exclusively at Whole Foods, they can be found in a number of states. However, if you are not in the vicinity of a Whole Foods, there is likely a good substitute in your area, although you may have to visit a gourmet or helath foods store. Ciolo’s are in the refrigerated section, but also check out the canned section for bottled varieties.
2. Great for Leftovers It takes almost no extra time to double the crust. You can then vary the topping and have an easy meal the second night.
3. Meal Ideas Since this dish has a good balance of vegetables, proteins and starch, it can stand alone. If you want something more, consider a simple salad, plate of sliced cantaloup, or just crunchy sugar snap peas.
Filed under: Healthy Eating, Recipes, Saving Money, Vegetable-a-Month | Tagged: Brown Rice, Chard, Ciolo Foods, Instant Rice, Rice Crust Pizza, Roasted Red Pepper Pesto, Saving Money at the Grocery Store | 1 Comment »