Monday, July 19, 2010

Red Rice with Sausage and Roasted Vegetables

Before I get into the recipes, let me tell you about the plate that I used.  It's a biodegradable and compostable palm plate that I got as a promo from Marx Foods (  The plates are made from palm leaves that have naturally dropped from the palm trees and then cleaned and formed into these fantastic disposable plates.  They have the feel, weight and durability of styrofoam, but they're really quite nice to look at and to eat off of -and of course they are environment friendly.  My husband's comment  was "too bad they don't have a lid.  They'd make the perfect green take-out container..."  Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed eating off of them.  In fact, they are so nice, there is this urge to clean them and use them again, but that's not a great idea because they have ridges in them that wouldn't clean well (I don't actually know if they'd hold up to washing but the thought was there...) The next time I need  disposables, I'm definitely ordering a set of these palm plates.  They come in lots of great shapes from round, square and hexagonal dinner plates, to smaller salad plates and soup bowls.  Check out the website to see the full array of products - Marx Palm Plates.

I must say that this is not the prettiest food that I've ever made, although it did look more appetizing than the picture shows.  I had some leftover sausages that I wanted to use up, and some fabulous veggies from the farmer's market so I thought a jambalaya-type dinner would be just the thing.  The problem is, I don't really like garlic, onions, and hot spices, so a true jambalaya was not really feasible.  I decided to use some of the elements of jambalaya and then just make it up as I went along.  It really was a taste extravaganza and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  I decided to pair it with salad with a very tangy mustard dressing.  The recipe for that follows.

The recipe would serve 2 adults and 2 kids.  To serve 4 adults, use all of the vegetables (I used half and then mixed the remaining half into the leftover rice to be used as a side dish tomorrow) and increase the rice to 1-1/4 cups.  You probably won't need more liquid, as there was plenty, which I evaporated by cooking the rice with the cover off for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Red Rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onions (more if you like onions and none if you hate them!)
2-3 small sausages per person (I used turkey breakfast links)

1 cup short-grained brown rice (1-1/4 cups if more servings are needed)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can low-salt chicken stock
2 bay leaves

Roasted Vegetables
1 zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch thick chunks
1 red bell pepper, halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 baby or chinese eggplants, stems removed and cut in 1/2-inch x 1/4-inch thick chunks
1 or 2 handfuls of cremini or white mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the rice:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick dutch oven or saute pan.  Add the onions and sausages and cook on medium heat until the sausages are brown, stirring the onions occasionally so they don't burn, and turning the sausages so they brown on all sides.  Remove the sausages to a bowl (they won't be cooked through).

Stir in the brown rice, paprika, dried thyme and dried oregano.  Stir to coat the rice well, and then add the canned tomatoes with the juice, the chicken stock and the bay leaves.  Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 50 minutes.

 Meanwhile, dice up all of the vegetables and mix them with the olive oil, salt, oregano, thyme, paprika and Worcestershire sauce.  
Line a jelly-roll pan with aluminim foil (nonstick, if you have it), and spread the vegetables in it in a single layer.  Place in the oven, and roast for 15 minutes.  Increase the heat to 450 and cook for another 15 minutes, until the vegetables are browned and cooked through (if you prefer the vegetables a little more al dente, you can start them out in a 450 degree oven and cook for only 20 minutes - enough time to brown them but not soften them too much).
When the rice is almost done, check to see if it is too soupy. 

If so, move the lid a little so that some of the steam can escape.  If the rice is fully cooked, but too soupy you can remove the lid completely and cook for a few minutes uncovered.  About 3 minutes before serving, cut the sausages into 1/2-inch chunks. Add them to the pot, replace the cover, and let the sausages steam on low heat, just to finish the cooking. 
Stir in the half of the roasted vegetables and reserve the remaining veggies for another meal ( if you need more servings, you can add all of the veggies).

Serve the red rice directly from the pan, or portion it out, as in the opening photo.

If you'd like the dish to be more like jambalaya, add garlic, Andouille sausage, celery, cayenne and black pepper.  You can also add chicken and shrimp.

Salad Accompaniment
I wanted a salad with a bit of a punch to it.  I used organic mesclun mix, bok choy, carrots and sugar snaps, with raisins as a garnish.  I thought the cruciferous bok choy and the sweetness of the remaining ingredients would taste great with a super-mustardy dressing.

Lowfat Dijon Mustard Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 - 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
2 tablespoon olive oil
fresh herbs to taste, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, soy sauce and syrup.  Little by little, whisk  in the olive oil.  Add pepper and herbs if desired.
This is a pungent mustard dressing.  Use sparingly.

Makes enough to lightly dress  6-8 servings (1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons per serving)

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