Rice Cakes with chunky tomato sauce: the perfect hot lunch for work

Town, is it fair game to write about something I came across when I lived in the big city?

Back when I took the bus and subway to get to work, I always picked up the metro paper. It’s like a Reader’s Digest of sorts and best of all, it’s FREE! What’s not to like? Everything in the paper was in snippets, easily readable before you got to your destination. While I loved reading the paper cover to cover, the best thing was the recipes. This particular recipe was (almost) made for me. It’s from Rose Reisman’s Complete Light Kitchen and I’ve made it so many times that the clipping has barely survived. Good thing I can pretty much make this from memory!

I say that this is the perfect lunch because it combines starches with protein and vegetables – all things you need to keep you going. It’s light enough that it doesn’t make you sleepy afterwards and the tomato-cheese combination has been proven by scientists to make you more mentally alert. That means I should get a raise for having this dish so often, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

I come from an area where wild rice is grown and harvested. It’s terrific stuff! Sadly, Sweet Baboo isn’t fond of it, but he will eat it in these cakes which makes this recipe a winner in my books. The recipe is structured around liquid consumption and cooking times of certain ingredients, so it is best not to substitute if at all possible. Let’s give it a go:

Start with 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock.

I make my own chicken stock but you can just as easily use any flavour of store-bought broth that you like.

I make my own chicken stock but you can just as easily use any flavour of store-bought broth that you like.

Pour the stock into a large pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Now it is time to throw in half a cup of wild rice:

Ok, I may have snuck in slightly more than half a cup.

Ok, I may have snuck in slightly more than half a cup.

Turn the stove to medium low. Cover the pot and simmer for 25 minutes. The wild rice needs this extra time to soften, so I usually set a timer to remind me when to look at the rice again. When the timer goes off, I throw in half a cup of white rice:

half cup white rice

Cover the pot with a lid again and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, there is still a little liquid left that the rice didn’t soak up, so I turn off the heat, throw half a cup of bulgur (also known as cracked wheat) and put the lid back on.

half cup bulgur

Not a bulgur fan? Can’t find it in the grocery store? Couscous could be substituted – it has the same cooking properties.

The bulgur needs a few minutes to soak up the rest of the liquid, so take advantage of this time by preparing the last two ingredients: shredded cheese and whipped eggs.

Get out your fancy food processor. Here’s a picture of mine – you’re jealous, I can tell. I use the feature on the right for tiny pieces of cheese that melt into the rice. You’ll need about 1 cup of shredded cheese.

grater

Crack two eggs into the same bowl that you have the cheese in. Use your fancy mixer (this is Kountry-speak for FORK) and whip the eggs and cheese together.

Now that you’re feeling buff from the bicep workout, it’s time to look at the rice:

If it looks like this, it's ready. It just needs to cool now so that it doesn't cook the eggs as they are added.

If it looks like this, it’s ready. It just needs to cool now so that it doesn’t cook the eggs as they are added.

Since patience is not a virtue I possess in ample quantity, I fill a sink 1/3 full of cold water and put the pot in it. After a few minutes, I can mix in the eggs and cheese.

Time to prep a baking sheet with aluminum foil and parchment paper:

prepared pan

Using a spoon and a 1/4 cup measuring cup, lightly pack the rice mixture into the cup and turn it out onto the baking sheet. This will give roughly 15 rice cakes:

moulded onto the sheet

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The rice cakes will take 25 minutes to bake at that temperature.

While they would be great with a white sauce, there’s something about a chunky tomato sauce that makes them so wholesome and inviting.ย Here’s what I do:

Fry half a pound of lean ground beef (or chicken or turkey or pork or meat-substitute – you choose).

ground beef

Add a can of tomato sauce (or puree or passata or diced or crushed – they’ll all work) along with a diced bell pepper and any other delightful vegetables you want to add.

canned tomato and pepper

Simmer the sauce while the rice cakes are cooking – it doesn’t take long.

Once the golden-brown rice cakes emerge from the oven, it’s time to slather them in deliciously tangy tomato sauce. Eat them right away or freeze them to take with you as a work lunch (like I do). Happy Eating!

ready to eat

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6 thoughts on “Rice Cakes with chunky tomato sauce: the perfect hot lunch for work

  1. I wonder if one can make it with the wild rice mix that a person in the city can so easily buy? It seems like it should work and so I shall have to give this a go. Beloved won’t eat grass as he says if he were meant to eat it, he’d be a cow, sheep or goat, so that means all the more for me! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now where does a city girl go to get a fork……

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    • Town, I think if you try it with a pilaf blend, you will want to adjust the amount of rice used per liquid as per the package directions. Likely that rice is parboiled before being mixed together so it will absorb a different amount of liquid. Mine are already all gone – sadness. They were scrumptious! I hope you like them! -Kountry

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      • I shall have to play around with them and perhaps skip the cheese and use the egg as a binder and toss it with some delicious goaty cheese after! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • You certainly can make it with a pilaf mix, Town. All you have to do is adjust the liquid content to go with the package directions because the rice mix is already parboiled so that the rice will all take the same time to cook. In order to get the same amount of rice cakes, you have to end up with 4 cups of cooked rice. In my recipe (and I call it that loosely because I have made several adjustments from Rose’s recipe to make it faster and easier to throw together), the wild rice expands to 2 cups, the white rice expands to 1 cup and the bulgur expands to 1 cup.
      Enjoy!

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    • Oh boy. Apparently not feeling well is making me think in loops. Sorry for the same explanation twice, Town. It probably would be ok just using eggs and then tossing with goat cheese. As you know, I’m not lactose intolerant, but I can’t seem to eat dairy unless it is cooked into something, so the cheese works well inside for me. I think the goat cheese on top would be delightful!

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