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Cilantro sauce to the rescue

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Published June 2, 2004

Cilantro sauce

A sauce of fresh cilantro, green onions, ginger and garlic stirred into cooked rice gives the rice intense fragrance and flavor. Shiitake mushrooms add a little earthy smokiness.

Nothing too difficult about that. It's the idea that makes the difference: The combinations are creative, the results delectable, in this recipe from The Best of Cooking Light 4 ($9.95), a special edition of Cooking Light magazine.

It has 140 recipes culled from those published last year, and they're those with the most "yum factor," editor Mary Creel writes.

Cilantro Rice With Chicken

For the rice and chicken:

1 tablespoon oil

2 cups quartered shiitake mushroom caps (about 6 ounces)

1/4 cup chopped green onion bottoms

1/2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 cups uncooked long-grain rice

2 teaspoons ground cumin

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds), cut into bite-sized pieces

3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

For the sauce:

2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves

1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops

1 teaspoon chopped peeled fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 garlic clove, peeled

For the topping:

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops

Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For rice: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms, green onion bottoms, ginger piece and crushed garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in rice, cumin and chicken; cook 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

For sauce: Place cilantro, broth, green onion, chopped ginger, salt and garlic clove in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Stir into rice mixture. Discard ginger piece.

For topping: Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons green onion tops. Place the rice mixture in a large bowl, and spoon tomato topping over rice. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Makes 8 servings (1 cup rice mixture and about 1/4 cup tomato topping).

Nutrition information per serving: 339 calories, 6.8g fat (1.4g saturated), 25.3g protein, 41.5g carbohydrates, 1.8g fiber, 82mg cholesterol, 416mg sodium.

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