Mealtimes are an important factor of daily family life. It is a time when we not only share food together, but we also share stories from our day. Sitting around the dinner table together is one of the strongest bond forming rituals a family can take part in. However, what with longer working hours, numerous after school clubs, homework, and life admin in general, we have become a very time poor society. Which means those midweek dinners need to be quick, easy, as well as nutritious so that we can still enjoy eating together as a family.
With this in mind, we have put together 5 quick and easy rice recipes that can be made from scratch with a few helpful little shortcuts to ensure family mealtimes continue to be the highlight of our day.
Paella is one of those dishes that instantly transports you back to fond memories of summer holidays spent on the terrace of a Spanish restaurant overlooking the sea. But who said this dish had to be saved for holiday times only? Not us, that’s for sure. Because despite it looking perhaps a bit too fancy for a midweek dinner, it’s actually one of the quickest easy rice recipes you’ll come across.
You can choose whether to go for a meat paella or a seafood version, and this will depend a little on the taste preferences of your family members. My 11-year-old daughter can be a bit fussy at times; If I make meat paella she doesn’t like the chorizo in it and if I make seafood paella she doesn’t like the squid or mussels. The good thing is, she loves the basic paella rice mix with vegetables, so she can easily pick out the larger pieces of meat and seafood she doesn’t like and pass it over to someone else, who is always happy to get extras of the ‘best bits’.
You can find an authentic yet quick and super easy Spanish paella recipe over on this site https://mahatmarice.com/recipes/authentic-spanish-paella-seafood/
Chinese Fried Rice
This is one of my favourite easy rice recipes, because it’s super quick and it also allows you to use up any leftovers you might have lurking around from the weekend.
It is a real throw it altogether kind of meal, but it is an absolute winner with my hungry lot and the plates are always clean at the end, which as you well know is the test of a good dinner.
Simply boil up some basmati rice (not traditionally Chinese I know, but personally I think this type of rice works best in this) and while it’s cooking decide what other bits and bobs you’re going to put with it. I like to use any meat we have left over from the Sunday roast, and the best part is that it’s already cooked so it just need warming through the rice. And as for vegetables it’s really all about using whatever you’ve got in the house; anything goes. My favourites include: baby sweetcorn, mange tout or sugar snap peas, red pepper, and carrot batons. You will need to cook the vegetables a little, either by boiling them or stir frying them, but they don’t need long, as you want some texture in your meal.
Once you have all of your ingredients prepped, crack one or two eggs into a large wok or frying pan and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a runny scrambled egg. Ideally, you want the egg to have started to scramble, so that there are chunks of cooked egg, but also so that there is still runny egg there too. And the reason for this is that now is the time to add your cooked rice, and the rice will absorb the runny egg, making it super tasty, but there will also be chunks of scrambled egg running through it as well. Splash in a few drops of soy sauce and then throw in your meat and vegetables. Stir until everything is evenly distributed and then serve topped with chopped spring onions, and a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce or sriracha depending on your spice tolerance.
Risotto can be a bit fiddly to make and I’ll be honest it does take a little bit more care and attention than some of the other easy rice recipes I’m sharing with you today. That being said, it is such a versatile dinner, as you can mix in pretty much any flavours you like, and it always goes down well with the family, so it’s worth the extra effort.
I like to use arborio rice as it’s easy to find in the supermarkets and it is the most forgiving rice for this type of dish. To make a basic risotto, finely chop an onion and fry in olive oil with lots of garlic until softened. Stir in the rice until coated in the oil and then pour in about a litre of hot stock. There are two secrets to a good risotto – 1) chuck all the flavours you can at it and 2) keep stirring.
Some of the risotto flavours we like in our house include:
- Tomato – I like to mix tinned tomato soup in with the stock and add both fresh and sundried tomatoes to it.
- Cheesy – Parmesan always, cheddar sometimes, mozzarella balls for extra gooeyness.
- Chicken – Great for using up left over roast dinner meat.
When the rice has softened and the risotto is creamy in texture, remove from the heat and stir in a large nob of butter and as much cheese as you can get away with. Sprinkle with herbs and serve.
This is by no means an authentic Indian biryani, but it is a firm family favourite and one of those easy rice recipes you’ll keep on coming back to. Rice of choice for this one is obviously basmati and because I like anything that makes life easier, I like to cook it in my microwave rice cooker. This basically involves putting in 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water (scale it up according to how much you want to make, but always keep to that ratio) and then microwaving on high for about 10 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, fry off some finely chopped onions and garlic in butter with some curry powder. Stir in the cooked rice and your choice of cooked meat – chicken or lamb work really well. Serve with green beans and broccoli and top with a spoonful of natural yogurt and a handful of toasted almonds.
On Friday’s we go Mexican and my lot absolutely love having fajitas with a side of Mexican rice. The fajitas are easy – fry off some chicken with onions and red pepper strips in a fajita sauce, spoon into a wrap, add salsa, avocado, bit of cheese, done. Delicious in itself, but made so much tastier with a side order of Mexican rice.
To make a delicious and easy Mexican rice, chop onion and garlic and fry until softened. Stir in some chipotle paste and tomato puree and then add a cup of long grain rice. Stir to coat the rice grains and then pour in a tin of chopped tomatoes and roughly 750ml of hot vegetable stock. Simmer until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice and then stir in some drained tinned sweetcorn.
We usually serve it on the side, but sometimes I like to add it in with the fajitas. It also works really well added to chimichangas and enchiladas. Give it a go.
Rice is such a versatile ingredient, which makes it a midweek dinner superstar in my eyes. Hopefully these 5 recipe ideas will inspire you when you’re planning the weekly menu.
We’d love to hear about any quick and easy rice recipes that you regularly serve up to your family, so remember to leave us a comment below and tell us all about them.