I am always trying to force myself to like foods I don’t really like. We’re only talking side dishes here, not main courses. I am happy to live forever without things like squid, eel, and calamari—which is secret name that was invented so you won’t know the real, frightening name: octopus!
However, unusual vegetables are all worth a try. And I’ll trick myself into thinking all starches are pretty much alike. For instance, I know brown rice is good for you and figure that brown rice is not all that far off from being a doughnut.
But give me sticky white rice anytime. Maybe I’m just used to it because of Chicago’s one billion Chinese restaurants that use it and deliver quickly. There is something about brown rice that is just “off” and I’ve tried several brands and many styles of cooking it.
Generally when I want to make myself like something I add olive oil, garlic (always a great disguiser) or lots of cheese. Strong spices and chili powder work. The great evil ingredient salt comes in handy as well. But none of that really did the trick for brown rice, so I took the road not taken and decided to make it sweet. After all, brown rice is “not all that far off from being a doughnut.”
And then I made it as simple as possible. This is so fruit-sweet it’s almost a dessert. It has a little crunch, too. I find it perfect with pork. After looking at the finished dish, it only seems appropriate to name it after a fun videogame.
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil (do not use olive oil)
8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 / 2 cup halved maraschino cherries (approximately 12-15 fruits)
1 / 2 cup slivered almonds
Bring rice, water and oil to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cover. Simmer for 25-35 minutes until liquid is almost, but not entirely, reduced. Turn off heat. Let sit 10 minutes, covered, then pour off any remaining liquid. Stir gently. Drain can of pineapple and reserve liquid for another use. Add pineapple, maraschino cherries, half of almonds, and mix gently but thoroughly. Serve with remaining almonds sprinkled on top. Serves 4-6.
Now you probably think I’m working on recipes like Pac-Man Pie or Super Mario Manicotti. I don’t know what those dishes would contain, but I like the names.