Brown Rice “Risotto”

Our July recipe of the month is Brown Rice “Risotto”. This is not a traditional risotto recipe which slowly cooks white rice with broth. This mock risotto recipe is much quicker. It calls for instant brown rice and cooks in about 20 minutes making it ideal for someone who needs a quick meal.

In my opinion, one of the best things about this recipe is its flexibility. It can easily go from a side dish to a main dish by stirring in pre-cooked meat or fish towards the end of the cooking time. I have enjoyed chicken, ham, and shrimp added to this recipe. I also like how the recipe allows for substitutions. You can change out the seasonings and the vegetables depending on what you like and what you have on hand. Mushrooms are one of my favorite vegetables, so adding fresh mushrooms and cooking them with the onion and rice is a treat for me. 

At Spend Smart. Eat Smart. we like flexible recipes because you can make them your own with flavors and ingredients you enjoy and have on hand. Here are some other flexible recipes to try out:

Find the full recipe:


Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

More Posts - Website

Pantry Picks – Brown Rice

How do you like the new Pantry Picks collection on our website? I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about my pick – brown rice. Brown rice is definitely a pantry pick in my house! I love it and I eat it pretty much every week. It tastes great, it’s hearty and it is a healthy choice for me. I try to make sure that at least half of the grain foods I eat are whole grains and brown rice helps me do that.

One of the things I like the best about brown rice is that it is so fast. I can cook a big pot of rice once and then split the rice up into freezer containers and freeze it for up to six months. Then I can have rice for many meals with just a quick zap in the microwave.

I use brown rice all year. In the winter, it goes into soups and casseroles and in the summer I make stir fry and salads. I put a little round-up of some of my favorite recipes that use brown rice below.

I hope you try one of these today and share your favorite ways to use brown rice with us in the comments or on our social media!


Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

More Posts

Tasty Taco Rice Salad

Tasty Taco Rice Salad is one of those “go to” recipes. You know — the ones that you turn to when you are you are in a hurry and you don’t have time to search for recipes. It’s easy, versatile and almost everyone likes it. PLUS it’s packed with nutrition—whole grains, vitamins, minerals, and protein.taco salad

Just re-reading it makes me want to make it soon. I have some end-of-season garden tomatoes and onions that will be perfect. Instead of the jalapeño, I’ll use a green and yellow pepper which I have on hand and will use up the last few celery sticks in the refrigerator drawer.

This is one of those recipes you can make without a kitchen. All you really need is a skillet/electric skillet. It is great for teaching kids to cook and you can double or triple it easily. When I don’t have fresh tomatoes I use 2 (14.5 ounce) cans Mexican-style tomatoes. (This does increase the sodium).

The trickiest part of this recipe is draining the fat from the ground beef. It is really important to get the extra fat off the ground beef, but you don’t want to clog up your sink drain. Here’s what I do:

  1. Spoon cooked ground beef in a colander over large bowl in the sink.
  2. Wait until the tap water gets really hot and spray it over the ground beef.
  3. Refrigerate the container of grease water in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Scrape the hardened grease onto an old newspaper and discard in garbage.

Tasty Taco Rice Salad

Serves: 8    |  Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups   |  Per Serving: $1.07

Ingredients:taco salad nutrition facts panel

  • 1 pound lean ground beef, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup onion, chopped (about 1 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 seeded jalapeño, chopped finely
  • 2 cups spinach or romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup 2%-fat shredded cheese


  1. Cook ground meat in a large skillet until brown (160° F). Drain off fat. Rinse meat with warm water to remove more fat.
  2. Add rice, water, onion, and chili powder to meat in skillet.
  3. Cover. Simmer over low heat about 15 minutes to cook rice.
  4. Add tomatoes and jalapeño. Heat for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Place layers of spinach or romaine lettuce, rice mixture, and cheese on plates. Serve at once.

Tasty Taco Rice Salad gets a 3.75 out of 5 rating on our site.  Let us know what you think!

Ham & Brown Rice Recipe

This ham & brown rice recipe is a perfect “Go-To Meal.” It satisfies hunger, take minimal effort and time, but maximizes taste. Add a glass of milk and a piece of fruit and you have something from each food group. Make extra and freeze for another night or save some to take to work.

The variations possible with this recipe are endless…you can use any type of meat or fish, or beans. Any frozen, canned or cooked vegetable will work. If you use a vegetable saver (a container in your freezer where you save small amounts of leftover vegetables), they would be good in this recipe. If you want to add onions, celery or peppers, they could be sautéed first and then the broth, meat and garlic added.


Ham & Brown Rice


  • 1 14-ounce can low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chopped ham*
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a skillet, combine broth, ham, and garlic. Heat to boiling.
  2. Stir in rice and black pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Uncover; add peas and cook about 4 minutes more until rice is tender and peas are hot.
  4. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top if desired. Serve immediately. If desired, this recipe is easy to double and freeze, so you’ll have extra for a future meal.
    *To lower sodium, substitute cooked lean pork for the ham and omit the parmesan cheese.

Join Our Mailing List

Enter your email address:


Recent Posts

Posts from the Past