I was recently directed to this article by (national treasure) Roger Ebert: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/11/the_pot_and_how_to_use_it.html
In it, Mr. Ebert writes about the humble, yet powerful, rice cooker.
I had always shunned rice cookers. When people would talk about how great their rice cooker was I would snark “I have a rice cooker. It’s also called a ‘pot’. The nice part is, it’s also a pot.”
I have similar feelings about oven mitts. I have an oven mitt. It’s called a ‘towel’. The benefit of using a towel, is it’s also a towel.*
I can make a good pot of rice in a standard pot. I can make a nice risotto too.
However, Mr. Ebert’s blog changed my tune.
Yes, the rice cooker can cook rice. It can also cook anything that needs to be steamed or cooked in water.
I worship at the alter of our Lady of the Ladle, Julia Child, but I’ve been wanting to broaden my horizons and eat more vegetarian and generally healthier dishes.
I purchased a 6 cup Zojirushi rice cooker with a steamer basket. It makes darn good rice. It also cooks beans to perfection. Tonight it made me a lovely batch of quinoa.
Quinoa (keeeeeeen wah) is a small little grain that when cooked has a nutty flavor and a pleasant texture.
Quinoa makes excellent salad. The small grains are fairly dense and when cooked they tend to stick together a bit. This allows you to mix all kinds of various things in without them all settling to the bottom.
This lovely salad is a mix of quinoa, shredded lettuce, fresh parsley, kidney beans, peas, onion, garlic, feta, salt, pepper, paprika, dill, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. All to taste.
Hearty and filling but not heavy. Nice mix of textures and flavors. Lovely while still slightly warm, good chilled. Highly portable for lunches.
*Yes, I know where my towel is.