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brown rice gratin

January 14, 2010

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, in general.  If I’m going to do something, I’ll do it.  It’s enough pressure just remembering to write 2010 instead of 2009 when dating things, let alone pile on other things I need to remember to do.  No, thanks.

I write this because this recipe involves both tofu and brown rice which would lead anyone to believe that I have made the resolution to eat healthier in the new year.  Nope.  1) Because I already feel pretty okay about getting my 5-a-day and 2) I believe in ‘dieting’ about as much as I believe in New Year’s resolutions.

This recipe is more of a regular staple in our house.  Inspired by a recipe I saw on the fabulous Heidi Swanson’s 101cookbooks, it’s become one of those dishes that’s made just by memory and not by recipe.  It’s the perfect accompaniment to a warm soup or better yet, it’s our go-to dish for guests that are visiting and have just gotten off a long flight.  They’re hungry and exhausted.  They want something light, but filling.  This does the job beautifully.

The best thing about this dish though is its versatility.  I’ve stayed relatively true to Heidi’s original recipe, but have adjusted it to my own likes.  I am confident that you could take infinitely more liberties and it would still turn out great.  Sub kale for the spinach.  Add some garlic when sautéing the tofu.  Take out the cumin all together and add another spice.  Whatever floats your boat.  The one thing I do encourage you to keep though are the pine nuts.  I don’t know what magic fairy dust is contained in pine nuts, but it takes me from liking this dish, to loving it.  (Side note: photos included here, do NOT include pine nuts, because I ran out.  They were greatly missed)

Brown Rice Gratin
adapted from the original 101cookbooks recipe


  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium red onion,  chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked chopped spinach (I use frozen, but fresh would be even better)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (plus more for adding on top)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère  cheese
  • 200g/7 ounces tofu, patted dry and chopped into bite size pieces
  • olive oil


  1. Cook brown rice in vegetable broth.  Allow rice to come to room temperature (this can be done the day/night before for even faster cooking/assembly time)
  2. Add about 1tsp of olive oil to pan.  Brown tofu.  Make sure to dry the tofu cubes before doing this.  The ones I use have a lot of water in them making it difficult to brown.
  3. In the same pan, lightly toast the pine nuts (toasting the pine nuts seem to add even “nuttier” flavor to them).  Just be careful, they toast quickly.
  4. Mix rice and tofu.
  5. Add spinach, eggs, onion and pine nuts (saving about 1/3 of the nuts for the topping).  Mix thoroughly.
  6. Add most of shredded cheese (save some to sprinkle on top), 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp salt.
  7. Coat a 10-inch baking dish lightly with olive oil. (I use a spring form cake pan which makes it even easier to take out)
  8. Gently press rice mixture into pan.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and pine nuts on top.
  10. Bake at 400 degrees until brown on top (about 30 minutes).
4 Comments leave one →
  1. Conor permalink
    January 15, 2010 12:10 am

    Sounds great. I’m going to use it on my roommates 21st. Thank you.

  2. Julia permalink
    November 11, 2010 11:03 am

    This looks great! Do you think you could assemble this dish in advance and refrigerate it for a couple hours before cooking?

    • November 11, 2010 11:25 am

      Absolutely! I also encourage you to simply prepare it ahead of serving in general. I find that this is one of those dishes that shines even brighter at room temperature. I use this recipe all the time as something to bring along on picnics–it keeps well.

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