Seaweed, cucumber and cilantro rice

Turn leftover white rice into a delicious side that tastes good cold or at room temperature. You’ll need: 1-2 mini cucumbers per portion, lots of shredded cilantro, seaweed flakes (or use sheets of seaweed and shred them yourself if you can’t find that), soba dipping sauce (or a bit of soy sauce and mirin or something else a little sweet), and a tiny pinch of red pepper flakes. The seaweed adds depth, the cilantro brightness, and the soba sauce umami to the fresh-tasting cucumber and rice.

How to: At the bottom of a bowl, pour out a small splash of soba sauce — not too much, as you can always add more at the end if needed. To the sauce add a few red pepper flakes (again not too much as we just want a tiny bit of heat to make things interesting) and stir a bit to infuse their flavour into the sauce.  Add your leftover rice and stir. Then add the cucumbers chopped into half-moons, the shredded cilantro, and the seaweed. Add more soba sauce if needed, and combine well before serving.

To add protein, you can mix in shelled edamame, shredded crab meat, or bits of smoked salmon. If serving with the salty salmon, use significantly less soba sauce to start with.

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Four ingredient tuna, white bean, and arugula salad

For two servings you’ll need: baby arugula, a drained can of cannellini beans (or chickpeas), a can of good tuna in olive oil (I used Genova yellowfin tuna, and recommend yellowfin instead of the lighter-tasting albacore in this recipe), and a lemon wedge. And salt and pepper.

Add the tuna and the white beans to your serving bowl. Season the tuna and beans heavily with a LOT of black pepper, and season the beans with a bit of salt if needed. Then add in the arugula, dress with a spoonful or two of the olive oil from the tuna, and toss. Season the arugula with a little bit more salt if needed. Finish with the juice from the lemon wedge.

Optional extras: the zest from the lemon, toasted pine nuts, a bit of avocado (if using avocado, cut down significantly on the oil in the dressing so the dish doesn’t get too fatty).

Versatile one-pan chicken and rice

This extremely flexible “recipe” outlines the basic steps for making a balanced, one-pan rice dish.

Every element of this dish is substitutable. I used chicken and spinach in this, but you could add or substitute bacon, ground sausage, steak strips, etc for the meat, and any leafy or quick-cooking vegetable (peas, zucchini, broccoli). I also used French-style seasonings (parsley and thyme), but you could swap out something spicier (e.g. curry powder and paprika), use a marinade (soy sauce and ginger, soy and balsamic vinegar, etc), or use whatever flavour profile you like. Finally, I used cooked brown rice in this recipe, but you could use raw rice or orzo and cook risotto-style. Other than that, all you’ll need is chicken or other stock, aromatics, and oil/butter.

1. If using uncured/unseasoned meat (I used whole chicken breasts, which I later shredded; you can also use cubed), prepare it by drying it well and then seasoning generously with salt, pepper and/or whatever dry herbs or sauces you are using. Leave to marinate on countertop until the meat more or less reaches room temperature.
2. When ready to cook, dice onion, garlic, shallots and other aromatics or base-vegetables (e.g. carrot or celery).
3. Heat your pan with oil or melted butter. Fry the meat until golden brown on both sides. Then add your aromatics and let them develop some colour.
4. By now, a nice fond should have developed on the bottom of your pan. Deglaze the pan with your chicken stock (and/or with a tasty white wine) to make a pan sauce. Finally, add your rice. If you’re adding cooked or frozen rice, simply cook until the liquid has absorbed. If adding uncooked rice or orzo, cook risotto-style, adding wine and/or stock until enough water has been absorbed to fully cook the rice (if you’re cooking whole chicken breasts or thighs here, you may want to remove from the pan and set aside at this stage, to prevent overcooking, and then replace and shred at the last step).
5. Finally, once the rice is fully cooked, add your quick-cooking vegetables and cook until done (I used bagged spinach and just wilted it down). I finished by stirring in a bit of butter (you could also use grated cheese, soft herbs, toasted nuts, or whatever you like).