Cashew Brown Rice

Now this is a recipe that my dad would absolutely LOVE.  He's probably the biggest fan of cashews that I know, and there was always a can of cashews around when I was growing up.  Cashews are the secret ingredient here, and they really bring this brown rice side dish to the next level.  I remember my dad adding cashews and green onions to rice when he was cooking it, and I've taken that idea and added a couple twists.  I drizzle the rice with a light sauce and toast the cashews ahead of time to really pack in the flavor of this side dish.

I served this to C with a fillet of salmon cooked according to Ina Garden's recipe for Panko-crusted Salmon, and the first thing that he said after taking a bite of the rice was, "This is an awesome meal."  No offense to Ina and the salmon, but I think the brown rice stole the show.  It has way more flavor than you expect from traditional (boring) brown rice.  A lot of times you can have a great piece of fish cooked perfectly and then the sides that are served with it are really bland, like steamed vegetables and rice.  Like I've said before (and will probably repeat to anyone who brings up the topic), healthy food really needs to have flavor.  Here's how to fix the problem of bland brown rice.  

Cashew Brown Rice
1 1/4 cups brown rice (I used Brown Jasmine Rice, but any kind will work)
(2 cups of water to cook the rice)
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar*
1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
Salt to taste (1/4 to 1/2 of a teaspoon is about right)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup of cashews, toasted** and chopped
5 green onions, chopped

*Like I said before:
Rice vinegar can be found in the grocery store with other vinegars.  It's used a lot in Asian dishes, and a whole bottle only cost me $1.99 at Trader Joe's.  You'll want to make this dish again, so I'd say it's worth the investment.
**Toasting nuts in the oven really brings out their flavor, so I highly recommend toasting the cashews before adding them to the rice (and it only takes a couple minutes while the rice is cooking).  Place the nuts on a baking sheet (I line mine with foil so I can just lift it all off when it's done).

Toast the nuts at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, or until the nuts become fragrant and begin to brown (you can check by shaking the pan a bit to see if any are brown on the bottom).  Make sure to set a timer though, because these can burn really easily.

1.  You need to cook the rice first.  Put the rice in a mesh strainer and rinse it under the faucet to get rid of some of the starch in the rice.  When the water has mostly drained out of the strainer, transfer the rinsed rice to a small pot.  Add 2 cups of water.  Cover the pot.  Bring the rice to a boil over medium-high heat and then turn the heat down to low.  Keep the pot covered and let the rice simmer for about 40 minutes. Then take the rice off the heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes while you get the other ingredients ready.

2.  Chop your green onions and set aside.

3.  When the cashews are toasted and cool enough to handle, transfer them to a cutting board and chop into fairly small pieces.  You really want to get a little bite of cashew in each bite of rice.

4.  When the rice is cool, transfer it to a baking sheet lined with foil (spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray) or parchment paper.  I actually used the same baking dish that I used with the cashews and just put a new piece of foil down because it was still warm.  Spread the rice out evenly across the baking dish.

5.  Whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, and honey in a small dish.  Pour the mixture evenly over the rice.  Sprinkle the rice with a bit of salt and some red pepper flakes.

6.  Add the chopped cashews and green onions to the rice.

7.  Use a serving spoon to gently fold together the rice, cashews, onions, and sauce until combined.

You can let the rice sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.  I made the salmon (which is really good, by the way) and then served it with the rice on the side and a small salad.  Really light, really easy, and really delicious.

You'll get between 4 to 6 servings of the rice, depending on what the main dish is and what your other sides are.  Here's the breakdown based on 5 servings.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 87 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
Saturated Fat 
Trans Fat 
Total Carbohydrates 
Dietary Fiber 
Vitamin A 3%Vitamin C 5%
Calcium 2%Iron 6%

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