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Vinegar gives basmati rice a flavor kick

I've borrowed a Japanese seasoning trick here, using a mild vinegar to flavor the rice. It adds a subtle taste and is especially good as an accent to the fragrant basmati. The spinach, mushrooms and garlic add flavor, color and texture.

Brown basmati is becoming increasingly common in supermarkets' rice aisles, but it doesn't work well in this pilaf; stick with white basmati varieties.

>Basmati Rice Pilaf with Baby Spinach and Mushrooms

1 cup uncooked basmati rice

Water, as needed

2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped

8 ounces cremini (brown) mushrooms, cut into thin slices


Freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces baby spinach, rinsed and drained

2 to 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar

Combine the basmati rice and water in a medium saucepan; use the package directions to determine the correct amount of water and the cooking time.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until the oil shimmers. Add the garlic; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is soft and fragrant.

Increase the heat to medium-high; add the sliced mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the mushrooms soften, release their liquid and eventually start to brown. Turn off the heat; immediately use tongs to incorporate the spinach, taking a few minutes to toss it until the spinach starts to wilt. Transfer to a large bowl.

When the rice is ready, stir in 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the seasoned rice to the spinach and mushrooms. Stir to evenly distribute the rice.

Taste, and add vinegar, oil, salt or pepper as needed. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

Serve with simple grilled meats. Because this dish is great at room temperature, you can prepare it before you go outside to grill.

Per serving (based on 8): 120 calories, 3g protein, 22g carbohydrates, 4g fat, 1g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 1g dietary fiber, no sugar.

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