friday nom noms: my baked veggie & lemon brown rice risotto

I’m not much into grains, they tend to make me... err, how should I put this delicately... inflated? Also, eating too many grains can irritate your gut and cause weight issues (more on that another day). Saying that, about once a week I’ll serve up a brown rice dish akin to a risotto that I pack full of vegetables and herbs. It’s healthful, tasty and filling sans meat (see boys, it’s possible).

my brown rice and veg concoction

do i really need to soak my rice?
In a word, yep. My recipe requires that you’ve soaked your brown rice overnight. Wondering why? A couple of reasons:
  1. it helps to reduce phytic acid which otherwise would interfere with the absorption of vital minerals: all grains, including rice, contain a substance called phytic acid. I’ve mentioned it briefly before here. Phytic acid is the form in which phosphorus is stored in plant tissues. It can’t be digested by humans and worse, it binds with important minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium (all vital for human health – being low in these can cause zinc and calcium deficiencies and lead to bone loss) and makes them ‘unabsorbable’. Soaking helps to break down the phytic acid to a form that can’t bind to those vital minerals, so that your body can absorb them.
  2. soaking boosts nutritional value: soaking neutralises enzyme inhibitors and encourages the production of beneficial enzymes that in turn increase the amount of many of the vitamins present in rice, including the B group of vitamins. Soaked rice also has a higher concentration of amino acids.

how do i soak rice?
The best way to soak your rice is overnight in a bowl of hot water and a little whey, lemon juice or vinegar. The next day (or night if you’re having it for dinner) drain and rinse really well. 

what’s the best way to cook brown rice?
Slowly, in lots of water or bone broth. I always boil my rice over a low heat for at least an hour, preferably two, before using it in any recipe (unless the recipe calls for a long cooking time anyway). Cooking it this way helps to further break down any phytic acid and makes it incredibly easy to digest. Think less... gas. I usually cook a big pot of brown rice and keep in the fridge of freezer.

On to the recipe! Oh but one more thing... try to buy biodynamic (or rain fed) rice when you can and organic/chemical free veggies – farmers’ market goodies are best.
baked veggie & lemon brown rice risotto
extra virgin olive oil
4 carrots, sliced into quarters lengthways (I used heirloom for the pretty colours)
½ cauliflower, cut into florets 
good knob of butter, preferably organic or biodynamic
3 leeks, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups brown rice, soaked overnight and pre-cooked for 1-2 hours or until soft
5 – 6 sprigs fresh thyme, stalks removed
1 litre chicken stock, free range or organic
pecorino or sharp parmesan, grated
1 lemon, zest and juice
salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 200C. Place the sliced carrots and cauliflower florets in a roasting tray, coat lightly in olive oil, season with salt to taste and pop in the oven until roasted and a bit crispy (about 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil and half the butter in a pan over low-medium heat and sauté the sliced leeks and garlic until fragrant.  Add the thyme and enough chicken stock to almost cover the leeks, cover with a lid and simmer gently until the leeks are very soft. 

Add the rice, the roasted vegetables and the rest of the chicken stock and simmer for a further 15 – 20 minutes or until you have a nice risotto-y consistency (not too much liquid but not too little – top up with water if you need to). Add the rest of the butter, pecorino, lemon zest and lemon juice to taste and combine. Taste and season with salt if needed (pecorino can be quite salty so make sure you taste before adding extra salt).

Serves 4 – 6.

Have any yum brown rice recipes you'd like to share? Feel free to share your ideas below:


  1. Sounds yummy, may try it tomorrow night! Have not thought of roasting the cauliflower!



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