Friday, July 12, 2013

Pineapple-Coconut Rice in the Rice Cooker

There are some foods that we taste that instantly transport the mind to a different time or place, or awaken a certain emotion or feeling within us. For me, pineapple is one of those foods—when I taste pineapple, it automatically brings SUMMER to mind!  And summer means warmth, freedom, beaches, pools, kids, playtime, and relaxation.  At least, ideally.  It at least means freedom from alarm clocks!

But, back to the pineapple.  I absolutely love the flavor of this strange, prickly giant fruit. This summer, instead of just cutting the pineapple up and eating it plain (which is definitely delicious!!), I've decided to try and incorporate it into dinner dishes more often.  Pineapple lends itself so well to being heated—whether it's cooked, grilled, or boiled, it's a fabulous burst of sweet flavor that everyone will savor! (And yes, I rhymed that on purpose!)  Pineapple pairs well with another summery, tropical flavor—coconut.  I experimented with basic coconut rice recipes and added all sorts of colors to the rice until I achieved what I am terming "summer deliciousness". Yum!  Just a warning though: many of the measurements in this recipe are vague and "to taste".  You can't really go wrong, so just experiment!

Pineapple-Coconut Rice

Since I use a rice cooker, the liquid ingredients are vague and should be adjusted according to your preference and/or method of cooking.

2 or 3 cups dry Jasmine rice
1 (13.5 oz.) can of coconut milk
2-3 TBSP shredded unsweetened coconut
½ tsp coconut oil
pinch of salt
1 (or more, if desired) cups of pineapple, cut into small cubes
½ cup (or to taste) peas (frozen is okay)
½ cup (or to taste) red bell pepper, cut into small cubes

Rinse the rice in the rice cooker and add the coconut milk.  Add enough water to cook the rice properly (this will vary depending on how much rice you are making. A good tip for a rice cooker is the "pinky rule": the liquid should reach to about one segment of your pinky finger above the rice. If you are cooking the rice on the stovetop, stick to a 1:2 ratio of rice to liquid).  Stir in the shredded coconut (to taste), coconut oil, and the pinch of salt. Start the rice cooker.

About halfway through the cooking (approximately 10 minutes), add the peas, pineapple, and bell pepper to the rice cooker and stir gently.  When the rice cooker is done, fluff and stir the rice gently again or transfer to serving dish. Enjoy!

The pineapple and coconut flavors pair really well with curries or seafood dishes (if you eat fish/shellfish).

Check out this simple recipe for basic coconut rice and create your own version! Share your ideas with me!