We’re well into the final push with school; there are four weeks of classes remaining in the term, and then exams. As luck would have it, my last exam for my last semester is scheduled on the last day of the exam period. Typical. My sister-in-law, Cammy, is also finishing up her degree this term, also after having chipped away at it for the better part of seven years, and also graduating at the ripe young age of 32. Because I’m a jerk, I wished out loud that her last exam and my last exam would be on the same day so we’d finish at the same time (read: I didn’t want to finish last). Because the universe is also a jerk, I got my wish (actually, my exam is at noon and hers is at 7pm, so *technically* I finish first, ha!) (see, I told you I’m a jerk) and we’ll both be wrapping up on April 28th. 52 days. And then? Champagne.
Between now and April 28th there is of course a stupid amount of things that need to get done, and I am, as usual, trying to cram in as much paying work as possible at the same time. Now more than ever I find that if I am going to be getting healthy meals in I need to do some serious planning. Pre-meditated eating, if you will. If I don’t plan, one of two things will happen; either I will come home tired and eat crackers straight from the box for dinner, or I will come home tired and get into bed in all of my bike gear and not eat dinner at all. This is especially problematic on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I spend 11 hours on campus and it takes supreme effort just to change back into my dank bike gear at the end of the very long day and pedal myself home. I’ve started packing not just lunch but also dinner with me on my long days and munching on dinner during my last class, which gives me energy to get myself home and also resolves the crackers /or no dinner situation I would otherwise have on my hands. The days that I do have time to cook, I’m looking to cook large meals that will serve well as leftovers, pack well, and offer a nutritional power-punch. This brown rice broccoli tart meets all the criteria.
The thing with cooking whole grains like brown rice is that they take much longer to cook than their refined counter parts. But it’s not like it takes all that much more effort, beyond setting your timer for longer and being physically present to check on things. So, what if you cooked up a big ol’ pot of brown rice at the beginning of your Very Busy Week? At the start of the week when your rice is fresh you could serve it beneath a nice veggie stir-fry. Mid week you could use left-over rice to build the crust for this tart, and towards the end of the week when it’s started to dry out a bit, you’ve got the perfect ingredient for fried rice, which always turns out better with rice that is a few days old. You can also cook up a big pot of brown rice and freeze it in one cup (or whatever strikes your fancy) portions so that you’ve always got some on hand in a flash. If that sounds crazy, let me assure you it’s not. You can buy pre-cooked brown rice in the freezer section of natural food stores for an outrageous price. Save money and freeze your own.
If you’ve already got cooked brown rice on hand, this tart will come together quickly. You can cook the crust ahead of time and cook the filling at the last second, or you can cook the whole thing ahead of time and serve it chilled. I’ve used broccoli, caramelized red onion, and a little Parmesan cheese here, but think of that at merely a suggestion. I can think of other great seasonal tart fillings, like roasted tomatoes and soft goats cheese, or roasted pumpkin and seasonal greens. This is a great option for a gluten-free savory tart if you’ve got people in your life who are sensitive to gluten, and a nice change from a pastry crust.
Brown Rice Broccoli Tart Recipe:
This crust won’t behave like a typical pastry crust – the egg filling will seep through the rice and to the bottom of your tart plate. Make sure you grease your pan with butter or oil to prevent the crust from sticking.
*note – some people who have been making this recipe have been finding the flavour quite bland. Remember to deeply caramelize the red onions to bring out the sweetness, and season the pan of broccoli and caramelized onions well with salt and pepper. Also, switching up the cheeses used in the crust or topping will impact the flavor. My sister made this and recommends Gruyère sprinkled on top.
Crust: (adapted from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook)
2 cups of cooked brown rice
2/3 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)
butter for the tart pan
Preheat oven to 400 F / 200 C. Grease a shallow tart pan (mine is about 1.5 inches deep and 10 inches in diameter) thoroughly with butter or vegetable oil. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix rice, egg, and cheese. Press the rice mixture into prepared tart pan, and using clean wet hands, press the mixture evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 15 min. Set aside to cool slightly.
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 head broccoli, chopped into pieces about 1 inch
1/3 cup milk
salt and pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, or other strong cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F / 200 C. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add sliced red onion, and fry, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and beginning to brown, but not burn. Add the broccoli into the pan and toss with the onions along with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Place broccoli and onions into cooked brown rice shell, and distribute evenly. Pour egg custard over the top. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Bake until cheese has begun to brown, and egg has set up, about 20 – 30 min. Let cool briefly before serving.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2011