Is that a Rice Cake?

Black Bean ans Swiss Chard Stew with Seasoned Rice Cake

I had made a promise to myself at the beginning of the year that I’d start baking my own bread more often. Because besides the occasional zucchini bread in the summer or a baguette or two, here and there, I’ve never really dabbled in the wonderful world of fresh-baked bread. Well, its June and I still haven’t even preheated the oven. But this isn’t the whole story. Part of the reason I was prompted to begin baking my own was the fact that I had cut back on the amount of bread I was eating in general. It didn’t pay to buy and waste. So I figured, if I wanted bread badly enough, I’d make it on my own. Enter rice cakes…

You are going to hate me for this one and maybe even question everything you’ve ever read on this blog. Yes, those cardboardy in texture, bland in flavor rice cakes are what I’m suggesting you use as a stand in for that warm, fluffy buttery bread. But no, this isn’t about “heathly for you” or “gluten-free” or whatever. We’re all grown ups here and there’s plenty of that stuff to read on the bajillion other food blogs out there. This is about convenience, removing waste, and even deliciousness.

Take for example this black bean and swiss chard stew I whipped up last night. Using dried black beans that were soaked over night gave this stew a great texture that the canned variety can not bring to the table. But in a pinch, of course the canned will work. With tomatoes, swiss chard and tons of spices (garlic, jalapeno, curry, chili, oregano, cardamom, and cumin) and a dollop of lime packed guacamole, this was a great dinner. But it was missing something. It needed a crunch. The crunch that a great piece of baguette would offer. With no baguette in sight, I reached for the rice cakes fully aware of the two potential outcomes. Em would either tout me a culinary genius and devour every bite or she would pack her things and find a real cook!

Just kidding about the packing her stuff up (I think)…

I brushed the rice cakes with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled them with salt, curry powder and sesame seeds and a little bit of hope. And yes, these were delicious! And yes, we both ate every bite; crunchy enough to hold up to the stew and with just enough flavor to liven the normally boring snack up a bit. The olive oil was the key. I can’t wait to try this with other spices and herbs!

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