As we know, brown rice is full of good nutrients, and I try to incorporate this nutty-tasting grain into as many meals as I can.

I find that brown rice marries well with other assertive flavors, such as Indian spices and Southwestern seasonings – so here are two such dishes.

The more neutral-flavored beans are another classical pairing and also lend additional protein.


I started eating this Indian dish a couple of months ago as part of a “cleanse,” but have since become addicted to it. You should be able to find all the ingredients at a natural food store. This version has carrots and spinach added, but other vegetables such as broccoli florets, zucchini, green beans, cauliflower, etc., are great, too.

Servings: About six

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (see note)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

½ cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed (see note)

½ cup mung beans or mung bean dal (split mung beans), rinsed

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

3 carrots, thinly sliced

2 big handfuls baby spinach

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Pinch of cayenne

Lemon or lime wedges

Heat oil gently in large saucepan. Add onion and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric and mustard seeds and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Add rice, mung beans, water and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cook covered for 30 minutes. Add carrots and spinach and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes until rice and beans are tender but not mushy. Stir in ginger, black pepper and cayenne.

Serve with lemon or lime wedges for squeezing on top.

Note: Unrefined, untoasted sesame oil adds fabulous flavor, but any other vegetable oil is fine. I like brown basmati rice, but you can use any long-grain brown rice. Short-grain rice can break down into mush.


The nuttiness of brown rice stands up well to assertive Tex-Mex flavors – and the black, yellow, red and green of the other vegetables in this salad also make it look beautiful. Fresh corn (and we’re getting it from Florida now) makes quite a difference here, but good old frozen kernels are fine, too.

Servings: Six to eight

1 cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed

2½ cups water

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 can (15-ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup chopped red onion

2 medium-large tomatoes, seeded and diced

1½ cups corn kernels, fresh or thawed frozen (see note)

1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced

¾ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems

4 scallions, sliced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ cup olive oil, plus additional if necessary

3 tablespoons lime juice

Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium-large saucepan, combine the rice, water, cumin and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cook until rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and cool.

Add the black beans, onion, tomatoes, corn, jalapenos, cilantro, scallions and oregano and toss. Drizzle with the oil and lime juice, season with black pepper to taste, and toss again. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to blend flavors, or for up to 12 hours. If salad seems dry, drizzle with an additional tablespoon or two of olive oil. Correct seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

Note: If using fresh corn, rinse two unhusked ears under cold water and microwave for about 10 minutes. Peel off husks, then use a sharp knife to remove kernels.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at: