How to turn 1 pot of rice into 5 dinners

Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever — or at least the whole week

(Image credit: (<a href="">Erin Alderson/</a>))

If you peek inside my refrigerator, you will always find the same few items: eggs, cheese, a couple of pieces of produce, some sort of bean, and a cooked grain.

Even though I'm in the kitchen more often than not during the week, I'm always making a big batch of some grain ahead of time, which I then use throughout the week for quick meals and those times I just don't want to make a complicated dinner.

Brown rice is one of my favorites, as it's not terribly fussy and it goes well with any combination of flavors. I typically have short-grain brown rice on hand, but long-grain brown rice works just as well. I also keep my technique simple: I just boil the rice like pasta until it's the perfect consistency. I start testing it at 30 minutes, let it cook until I feel it's ready, then drain it and pack it away for the week.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Vegetarian fried brown rice

I think that any great home cook needs a few "throw in whatever you have on hand" recipes and in my kitchen, fried rice is one of these. If I have any vegetables that look a bit on the older side, it's a fried rice kind of dinner. Sauté diced onion, throw in any vegetables you have on hand — carrots, spinach, peas, cabbage, and edamame are all great additions — and add the cooked rice along with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar for flavor. Make a well in the rice, pour in a couple of beaten eggs, and cook until the eggs are set. Garnish with sesame seeds and minced cilantro. This recipe can doubles easily — just use a larger pan.

Barbecue brown rice crumble loaded potatoes

This crumble is a staple in my kitchen. I'm not a big fan of vegetarian protein meat replacements, and this crumble came out of my desire for a substantial addition to meals that didn't involve tofu. I use a food processor to pulse the cooked brown rice with pecans and chickpeas, seasoning everything with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. I cook the mixture in a skillet with barbecue sauce, then serve it over half of a baked potato (you could also serve it on a salad, over mashed sweet potatoes, or on a sandwich). Feel free to use a different type of nut, like walnuts or hazelnuts, if you prefer.

Brown rice spinach salad

My husband and I are big salad eaters and the majority of time, we just toss whatever we have on hand in a bowl and call it good. This salad is one that seems to happen more often than not: a bed of greens, some cooked grains, a few vegetables, and crumbly cheese. I typically drizzle of a bit of olive oil and vinegar over my salad, but I like to add lemon juice and honey to a basic vinaigrette for a more exciting companion to brown rice, feta, and roasted red peppers.

Chipotle tomato egg skillet

I rely heavily on my spice cabinet for quick yet flavorful meals, like this take on shakshuka. If it's tomato season, I use fresh, chopped tomatoes with their juices, but otherwise, canned diced or stewed tomatoes work well. Make a quick tomato sauce with onion and chipotle powder, a spice that pairs with brown rice and cilantro. When the tomato sauce has thickened, add rice and herbs, make a well in the mixture, and crack in a couple of eggs. Cover and cook until the egg whites are set and the yolk is as runny or hard as you like. I'll often eat this skillet for a nice lunch or a fast, filling dinner, and in the fall and winter, I enjoy using sweet potatoes instead of tomatoes.

Brown rice patties with pesto

These patties — a combination of cooked brown rice, bread crumbs, pecan meal, and eggs — take a bit of time to bake, but the effort is well worth the result: crisp outsides and soft, tender insides. The patties are a bit of a mess to assemble, but don't let that stop you. In addition to eating these with pesto, I also like to serve them as finger foods dipped in a bit of marinara or harissa, or topped with a poached egg for breakfast.

Brown rice patties

Makes 8 to 10 patties

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-grain bread crumbs

1/4 cup pecan meal

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

This article originally appeared on 1 pot of rice, 5 dinners

More from Food52...

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.