This recipe is basically risotto cooked in the microwave. It is an excellent recipe for students due to the lack of pots and pans needed. If your cooking skills are not so great, and your purse is not so full of cash, this is a simple, nourishing meal that will be filling and not take too much effort. It's a great meal to make out of store cupboard ingredients, rice, tinned vegetables and so on, but can be livened up with more interesting fresh ingredients, depending on their availability. It's also the sort of recipe that will save wasting food by using up leftovers, an economy in these days of tightened finances.
A fairly deep, large microwave-proof vessel with a lid. A casserole dish is ideal, a glass mixing bowl with a plate over the top is fine too.
Oven gloves or a towel to protect your hands.
Something to stir it with (if you use a spoon, then you can use this to eat with later and save on washing up).
A sharp knife or can opener may be necessary depending on your choice of added ingredients.
Any type of rice you like except flaked rice. Supermarket value brands are fine, they just might need a little extra cooking.
A pinch of sugar
Quantities depend entirely on the amount of people you want to feed. The more you make, though, the larger the dish you will need. Depending on how hungry you are you will want approximately 3oz or 75g of rice. If you don't have a set of scales, this is about three large tablespoonfuls.
Rinse the rice in cold water, to wash off some starch. You will not be able to rinse it at the end of cooking, so it is important that you do so at the beginning.
Put the rice in the microwave-proof dish with at least its own depth in boiling water2.
Add the stock, no more than one cube or a small teaspoonful from a jar. Do not use too much. Some stock may have MSG3 in it, which can trigger headaches in some people, so read the ingredient list on the packet.
Add the tomato purée, a heaped teaspoonful should do although you can add more.
Next add the sugar; this is to balance the acidity from the tomato paste.
Stir everything together, making sure that the stock dissolves and doesn't go lumpy. Then cover the dish and put it into the microwave. Heat for five minutes on full power4. If it starts to boil over then remove some liquid from the dish and keep it to one side, adding it again later when the rice has absorbed some of the water. After five minutes are up, remove from the microwave using the oven gloves. Stir the rice vigorously and heat for another five minutes.
While the rice is cooking you need to prepare the rest of your ingredients. You can use whatever you like. Here is a list of some that you might use.
Sweetcorn - frozen or tinned. This can be added at the end of cooking; heat the dish for about a minute to warm the sweetcorn through.
Mushrooms chopped quite small, so no part is thicker than about a centimetre. Do not use tinned, they are evil. Also do not use wild mushrooms unless you are absolutely certain that they are edible. Mushrooms need to be added about five minutes before the end of cooking.
Tinned fish - pilchards in tomato sauce, salmon, anything really. Just remember to take the bones out first. Fish can either be added cold or heated up in the dish.
Leftover vegetables - green vegetables, such as broccoli, are great, but anything will do. Again, they can be added cold at the end, or heated through.
Butter/Margarine/Olive Spread - adding a blob of fat makes the rice taste much richer.
Cheese - chopped up cheese is great for throwing in at the end and makes the dish a lot more filling (though it also makes it a lot less healthy).
Eggs cooked any way you like. This will, of course, require another cooking vessel. Or you can crack the egg into the hot rice, stir and replace in the microwave for a moment or two to cook it through.
Any other food of your choice that you have available.
To Finish Cooking
The rice will need at least three lots of five minutes - possibly more - it depends on the type of rice you use. The best way of testing whether the rice is cooked is to taste it. Be careful not to burn your fingers on the hot steam from the cooking pot. When you think the rice is cooked, the extra ingredients can be added. If you are adding something that actually needs cooking rather than just heating through, then add it when the rice is very nearly cooked.
Voila! Your meal is ready! You may eat straight out of the cooking dish using your stirring spoon for minimum washing up, if you are eating alone. In company it is nicer to serve to individual dishes.
When you've finished eating, don't leave the dish to stand for days; either wash it up or fill it with water immediately. This is especially crucial if you have added cheese to your meal due to the unfortunate tendency this recipe has to set like concrete.