Rice has been a popular food staple for a long time and is found in a number of cultures. One of the reasons probably is because it’s so versatile. Rice goes well with both meat and vegetables and is a key ingredient in a number of soups, stews, breakfast cereals and even desserts.
Here’s a rice recipe from the Gullah and Geechee culture on the Sea Islands of Georgia, which has retained ethnic traditions from West Africa since the mid-1700s.
Sunday Red Rice
4 thick slices bacon
2 thick slices boneless ham (about ¾ pound), chopped
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
¼ cup chopped celery
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 2/3 cups water
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups raw converted white rice (Uncle Ben’s preferred)
Ground black pepper
Fry bacon in a heavy-bottom pot to render the fat. Remove bacon and reserve for another use.
Saute ham, onion, green pepper and celery in the bacon fat until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add tomato sauce, water, basil, bay leaf and sugar. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender.
Remove the bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 305 calories, 12 grams fat (4grams saturated); 35 milligrams cholesterol, 14 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams sugar, 2 grams fiber, 1,150 milligrams sodium, 50 milligrams calcium.