Comforting Creamy Rice and Chicken Bake

If you have leftover chicken or turkey, this is a perfect use for it; you can get creative by using up small amounts of vegetables, leftover rice and even a store prepared gravy if you don’t want to make your own. This is the perfect dinner for a chilly night.


3 C cooked rice – white, brown, wild or a blend (or 7oz. boxed rice blend, such as Lundberg)


1 T unsalted butter

1 C onion, diced

1 C celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into small cubes (or 2 C leftover cooked chicken or turkey, cubed)

2 t Italian seasoning

½ C parsley, chopped fine

1 C Panko or regular breadcrumbs

Other vegetable add-ins (optional) – choose two or three

1 C mushrooms, sliced or minced

½ C fennel, diced

½ C leeks, thinly sliced

½ C zucchini, grated

½ C carrots, grated

½ C artichoke hearts, diced

½ C celery root (celeriac), diced small

½ C parsnips, peeled and diced small

Creamy gravy

3 T unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, minced

3 T flour

1 ½ C chicken or vegetable broth, warm

½ C half-and-half, warm (or substitute non-dairy creamer such as oat milk creamer)

¼ t nutmeg

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the rice: If using a rice blend box mix, cook the rice according to directions on the box. Remove rice from heat when it’s almost cooked through but still slightly hard to the bite (“al dente”). If using leftover rice, bring to room temperature.

Make the filling: While the rice is cooking, prepare the vegetable and chicken filling: melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, add the onions, celery and garlic. Cover with a lid and sauté until vegetables have lightly softened, 2 minutes, uncover and add any additional recommended vegetables you desire. Add the chicken, cover and cook another 3 minutes, until the chicken no is no longer raw but not thoroughly cooked. (Note: if using leftover cooked chicken or turkey, add it after the vegetables have been lightly sautéed.) Set vegetables and chicken aside while you prepare the creamy gravy.

Make the creamy gravy: In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the minced shallot. Sauté the shallot briefly to soften, then add the flour, whisking thoroughly and cook, whisking constantly, until the roux loses its glossy sheen, about 3 minutes. Warm the broth and the half and half (or oat creamer) in the microwave for one minute. Add the broth ½ cup at a time to the roux, whisking constantly between each addition. Add the warm half and half and whisk well. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the rice into a 9×9 baking dish, add the vegetable chicken filling and gravy, mixing carefully to incorporate the gravy throughout. Add the chopped parsley and mix thoroughly. Cover with the breadcrumbs and bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Serves 4.

Rice Salad with Corn, Blueberries and Almonds

A tangy and nutty salad complimented by the pop of sweet blueberries. Sure to become a summer favorite. Also a great way to use up leftover rice, quinoa or any whole grains you have on hand.


1 C brown rice, or a whole-grain rice blend (such as Lundberg)

¼ C white quinoa

½ C red onion, chopped small

2 ears of corn, kernels cut from cob (raw)

½ pint blueberries

¼ C sliced almonds, toasted

¼ C fresh parsley, chopped



½ garlic clove, minced

Juice of ½ – 1 lemon (about 4 teaspoons)

2 t Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 t sugar

½ – 1 t curry powder

¼ C olive oil


Sea salt and pepper, to taste


Do ahead: Cook the rice and quinoa according to package directions. Let cool, or if using leftovers from the refrigerator, bring them to room temperature.


Make the dressing: Whisk garlic, lemon juice, sugar and curry powder together in a small bowl to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add the oil until emulsified; season with salt and pepper.


In a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the red onion. Add the raw kernels and stir well. Cook covered about 2-3 minutes until kernels are soft but not mushy. Add the blueberries, remove from heat and stir. Add the cooked rice, quinoa and dressing. Mix well, add the almonds and parsley; season with salt and pepper (and more curry powder if you wish). Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.

Red Rice and Quinoa Salad with Orange and Pistachios


red riceWith a sumptuous blend of sweet and savory, this dish, from the great Isreali chef, is classic Yotam Ottolenghi. It’s a little bit Middle Eastern, a little bit European, and a lot delicious. Red rice, like black rice, is densely nutritious and incredibly flavorful, with earthy, nutty notes a long ways from the blandness of white or even brown rice.

¼ C shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped
1 C quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 C red rice, cooked and cooled (see instructions, below)
1 medium white onion, sliced
1 small zucchini, diced
½ C olive oil
grated zest and juice of one orange
2 T lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ t red pepper flakes
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
½ C dried apricots, roughly chopped
2 handfuls of arugula (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Saute the white onion in 4 tablespoons of the olive oil until golden; add zucchini and saute until crisp-tender. Let cool completely. In a large mixing bowl combine the rice, quinoa, cooked onion and the remaining oil. Add all the rest of the ingredients, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at room temperature.
TO COOK RED RICE: Heat 3 teaspoons olive oil in a medium size saute pan. When hot add 1 cup red rice. Fry, stirring, until rice is lightly browned and starting to pop like popcorn. Add 2 cups hot water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook, without stirring, for 20-25 minutes or until barely tender. Remove covered pan from heat and let rest for 15 minutes. Drain rice in a fine mesh strainer. Let cool.

 Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Cranberries and Pecans



You can use all wild rice or a combination of wild with basmati, brown or red Bhutanese. Lundberg mixed rice combinations are an excellent way to go.

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 ½ lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
2 T olive oil
2 C wild rice or a wild rice blend (such as Lundberg), rinsed and cooked according to package directions
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C dried cranberries
¼ C warm water
2 T red wine vinegar
¾ C toasted pecans, chopped
3 T parsley, chopped

3 T extra virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
½ t ground cumin
¼ t ground cardamom
1/8  t cinnamon
¼ C freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ C freshly squeezed orange juice
1 T minced fresh ginger

Heat oven to 400F. Toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the squash on a baking sheet. Roast until tender and starting to brown, about 20 minutes (check earlier if your pieces are very small). While the squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes.

Cook the rice according to package directions (I like to substitute vegetable broth for water). When the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large serving bowl. Add the sautéed onion and garlic.

Place the dried cranberries in a bowl with the warm water and vinegar. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, then drain and add to the rice bowl. Add the parsley and pecans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon zest, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, orange juice, lemon juice and fresh ginger. Add it to the rice and mix well. Gently mix in the roasted squash. Adjust for salt and pepper. Serve warm if possible, or at room temperature. Serves 8.