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Fragrant Rice with Roasted Lemon Sparks Summer Meals

Where do you stand in the rice revolution? This is what I call the strong shift toward eating whole-grain brown rice. In the United States, sales of brown rice increased by 58 percent between 2006 and 2011, according to the U.S. Rice Federation. Even more impressive, the places where we eat away from home – restaurants, company cafeterias, etc. referred to as foodservice – have increased the amount of brown rice they bought to serve us by a stunning 126 percent since 2004.

Since my mother was intelligently nutrition-conscious even in the 1960s, she served only brown rice. Back then, River was the only whole-grain brand supermarkets carried. Unfortunately, compared to polished white long-grain rice from the supermarket, including popular brands like Carolina and Uncle Ben, it was starchy, heavy and tasted slightly bitter. No wonder I pushed it around on my plate and hoped mom did not notice how little I was eating.

Now, I eat only whole-grain rice, particularly fragrant brown basmati. This pilaf shows off its nutty flavor, fluffy lightness and versatility. Roasting the lemon slices brings out the flavor in the lemon zest while making it nice to eat, and caramelizing the fruit’s natural sugar gives the slices, and the rice, just the right zing.
Serve this pilaf with grilled or broiled salmon, shrimp or other fish, or roasted chicken. For an almost vegetarian main course, mix in chopped steamed asparagus or sugar pea pods and cubed baked marinated tofu.

Lemon Brown Rice Pilaf

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
6 lemon slices, 1/4-inch thick
1 cup brown basmati rice
½ medium onion, cut into thin crescents
2½ cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line small baking sheet with parchment paper.
In large saucepan, preferably wider than deep, place 1 teaspoon of oil. Add lemon slices and coat with oil. Arrange coated lemon slices on prepared baking sheet. Set pot aside.

Roast lemons for 20 minutes, or until rind is golden brown in places. Thin sections of slices may blacken. Coarsely chop 2 lemon slices, then set all roasted lemon aside.

Set saucepan over medium-high heat, and add remaining oil. Add rice, stirring to coat grains well. Spread rice to cover bottom of pot and cook until rice is fragrant and lightly browned in places, then starts to crackle, 5 minutes, stirring rice frequently. Add onions and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, 3 minutes. Pour in broth, add chopped lemon, and bring liquid just to boil. Reduce heat, cover tightly and simmer for 20 minutes. Check to see if liquid is needed, adding ½ cup water. Continue cooking, covered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy but still slightly al dente. Set aside, covered, for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fluff pilaf with a fork.
To serve, spoon rice onto platter or into wide serving bowl and top with remaining lemon slices.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 150 calories, 3 g total fat, (0.5 g saturated fat), 27 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 190 mg sodium.

The Author:
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Article Posted: May 15, 2013′



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