What I've Learned So Far
While there’s over 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice from all over the world, I generally only use three in my cooking: basmati, brown, and wild. When looking at using rice in a recipe, there’s a few basics you should know to get the best results.
The first is the grain of rice you want. Rice can be long-, medium- or short-grain. Longer grain rice (like Basmati) are most commonly used because you get fluffy grains that stay separated. Medium-grain rice cooks up tender, moist, and a bit chewy. The grains tend to stick together a bit. And short-grain rice – like Sushi rice – cook up sticky and clumps, which makes it much easier to eat using chopsticks.
Rice has a husk, bran, and germ. When it’s milled, any or all of those can be removed. For example, white rice has had the husk, bran, and germ removed. Brown rice has had the husk removed but retains the bran and germ. For a long time brown rice was considered to be healthier than white rice, but there’s now a lot of evidence that may not be true. I tend to just use the rice that works best for the recipe.
The different varieties have different cooking times and flavors – white rice cooks the fastest (in about 15 minutes), and wild rice the longest (about 45 minutes). There’s also differences in taste and texture, and some rice (like Basmati) are aged. There’s some great information out there on rice, but the best way to learn more about it is to try different varieties. It’s a great staple to keep in your pantry – you can always cook up some rice and veggies for a quick, easy, delicious meal!
• Please, do NOT use Minute Rice for this recipe!
• If you’re in a hurry, you can use a packet of Taco Seasoning instead of all the spices. Opt for low sodium and remember it’s much healthier to use the spices.
• This isn’t a hot or spicy dish, so if you want to be more adventurous, when you’re adding the beans, corn and tomatoes you could add peppers, chilies, or other ingredients.
• You could also use pinto beans in this recipe, or shoepeg corn. If you prefer frozen over canned vegetables, you can do that too. About half a bag of frozen corn would work well. I would recommend cooking it first – putting this dish in the oven is really just to melt the cheese.