Friday, 8 July 2011

Brown Rice Picnic Rolls

Rice is a good thing. Especially brown rice. And it makes no demands from you, it is happy to sit in the pantry waiting patiently for you to get inspired to throw some into your soup, whip some up as a side for your dinner, or feature it in an unctuous risotto. Or in my case, rice pudding. The sweet side of risotto. Mmm.

But today I went for something fun and picnic-like with my rice, a celebration of summer. These picnic rolls are inspired by my other rice favourites - sushi maki and dolmades.

All About Rice
The grains of time…Rice History

According to archeological evidence, rice has been feeding two-thirds of the world’s population for more than 5,000 years. The first recorded decree on rice planting was made in China in 2800 B.C.

From China, rice migrated west to Greece then on through Persia to the Nile Delta, eventually making its way into the United States just over 300 years ago.

Early reports state that a significant harvest was taking place in 1690 in the Carolinas. By 1726 “Carolina Gold Rice” became the world standard for quality rice. Over time, farmers discovered ideal growing regions in Southwest Louisiana, Southeast Texas and later in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Florida and California.

Today, nearly 70 per cent of rice consumed in Canada comes from the U.S. As well as being a versatile accompaniment to any meal, rice has matured into the main course with the popularity of such international dishes as Paella, Jambalaya, Sushi and Risotto.
To make brown rice picnic rolls -

1 cup small or medium grain USA brown rice
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water

8 medium sized summer kale leaves

16 long, thin slices ham
16 long, thin slices red pepper
8 long, thin slices sharp cheddar
Dijon mustard

Cook your brown rice in the rice cooker, if you have one. Add the rice, water, olive oil and bouillon cube and cook until tender. Mine goes for about 45 minutes, then switches to warm for about 10 minutes before being done. I use regular cups and not the little one that comes with the rice cooker.

Alternatively, use the stovetop method.

Blanch your kale leaves in boiling salted water, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside between kitchen towels to dry.

Line up your fillings and have the Dijon handy. 

Line a sushi mat with plastic wrap. Lay a kale leaf out on the wrap and line with a thin layer of the cooked and slightly cooled rice. Lay 2 slices ham, 2 red pepper, and 1 cheddar cheese across the leaf, about an inch in. Give a good smear of Dijon and roll up, using the plastic wrap to bind it as you go, like sushi maki. Roll up the ends of the plastic and let the picnic rolls chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Slice into bite-size pieces, in the plastic if you wish, and serve cold or room temperature.

Interesting Facts and Figures
  •     The U.S. is one of the largest exporters of rice, supplying about seven per cent of the rice that enters world trade. Approximately 45 per cent of the U.S. rice crop is exported to more than 100 countries.
  •     There are approximately 30 mills in the U.S.
  •     Canada produces no rice of its own. Canadian wild rice is not a true rice, but the seed of an aquatic grass.
  •     Almost 70 per cent of rice consumed in Canada is grown in the U.S.
  •     The U.S. produces over 40 commercial varieties of rice each year in paddy, brown, white, parboiled and precooked forms.
  •     There are thousands of rice varieties. At the International Rice Research Institute Genetic Resources Centre in the Philippines, there are 80,000 rice samples in cold storage.
  •     Rice is grown on every continent except Antarctica.
  •     One seed of rice yields more than 3,000 grains. It is the highest yielding cereal grain and can grow in many kinds of environment and soils.
 For more information, cooking techniques, and recipes involving rice - check out the USA Rice Federation at