You know how you go into a weekend thinking you’re going to unwind, get some extra sleep, watch a movie, make your favorite pancakes for breakfast—just generally forget about the work stress of the previous
months week…do you see where this is going?
Instead, you find yourself staring down a long backlog of to-dos, cleaning up dog pee, talking about finances and work stress, and trading in that movie to fight Lightroom to edit photos of food and puggles? Okay, so a few of those are kind of specific, but I’m betting you may be able to relate to feeling like you sometimes need a vacation from your weekend.
The Lightroom thing is annoying (can anyone tell me how to not make it take for-ev-er to preview photos before importing?). The dog pee thing, well, I tell the dogs it happens to the best of us. And the work stress, that has little to do with me, but I have a habit of taking on other people’s problems and trying to fix them. Seeing as how this blog, the CNE program, and homemaking are my jobs right now, my “workdays” are pretty fantastic. I could do without the dog pee though.
I did have a nice unexpected win last week food-wise! It was Thursday evening and I’d already made the recipes I had planned, which meant our fridge was looking a little sparse, aside from a decent amount of basil (I somehow always have fresh herbs and no idea what to do with them). This time, though, I also had pine nuts. So, pesto! But I didn’t have pasta. So, brown rice! This is sort of how my brain works with recipes—I see an ingredient I want to use, and then scan our pantry like I’m putting together a puzzle. Sometimes it works, sometimes I’m the only one who will eat it.
This one worked, and was made even better atop a big bowl of sautéed Swiss chard. Give me all the greens! ← that might be my life motto.
So, when this weekend ended up being more draining than rejuvenating (productive, at least), I knew exactly which recipe I would make for dinner on Sunday and leftovers during the week.
This vegan pesto brown rice is creamy and comforting, but very light on the olive oil because I have a “thing” about tasting a lot of oil in my food. I added brightness with lemon juice and some cheesy flavor with nutritional yeast, and as with all good pesto, it’s sufficiently garlicky. It’s also really quick to come together:
Simmer rice, throw pesto ingredients in food processor, pulse pulse pulse, sautée greens, plate + serve. Easy!
It’s fast, feel-good food.
- 2¼ cups brown rice, rinsed and drained
- 4½ cups filtered water
- 4 ounces fresh basil
- ¾ cup toasted pine nuts (walnuts, cashews, hemp seeds and almonds work well too)
- 3-4 medium cloves garlic, chopped (depending on how garlicky you like it)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¾ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large bunches Swiss chard (or kale, spinach, or collard greens), stems removed and cut into bite-size pieces
- pinch of fine-grain sea salt
- Add the brown rice and 4½ cups of filtered water to a medium, uncovered pot over high heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
- While the rice is cooking, make the pesto. Combine the basil, pine nuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil and lemon juice. Turn off the machine, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add in the nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Pulse several times until everything is well combined. Taste and add more salt/pepper if necessary.
- Ten minutes before the rice is done cooking, heat a large sautée pan over low-medium heat and add the 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Once heated, add the Swiss chard and pinch of sea salt, and stir to coat the greens in the oil. You can cover the pan for a minute or two to help steam the greens if you like. Continue to stir every so often until the chard is beginning to wilt, but is still bright green in color (about 2-3 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside while you prepare the pesto rice.
- In a large bowl, mix together the brown rice and pesto. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Divide the sautéed Swiss chard among your serving dishes, then top with the pesto brown rice. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf and enjoy!
Photography by Aaron Scott.