Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sausage and spinach rice bowl: a recipe

Sausage and spinach rice bowl
I used to live in Southern California. The famed "OC", in fact -- although no one called it that except the fools on that TV show.

One of my favorite things about living there was that you could get healthy fast food. Clearly I'm not talking about In-N-Out (which I used to call "In, Wait Around for a Wicked Long Time, N Then Out"). There was a cool fresh Tex-Mex place called La Salsa (I think), and of course the almighty Wahoo's, home of the fish taco.

(I still have never eaten a fish taco. The combination just scared me too much.)

Besides fish tacos, Wahoo's made these fast and yummy rice bowls. Ever since we moved away (can it be nearly 10 years? Good lord, I'm getting older faster), I've made my own version of those rice bowls for a fast lunch or dinner. Put some warm cooked rice in a bowl, add some seasoned grilled chicken (black beans optional) and top it off with a couple of big spoonfuls of pico de gallo. Delish.

(Hmmm ... I think that might make some this weekend. And turn it into a blog post. Not to let the cat out of the bag too much.)

This rice bowl recipe from Cooking Light reminded me of that Wahoo's dish, but with an East Coast versus West Coast twist. It is still winter here in Vermont (although you'd never know it, with all the 80+ degree days we've had this week), so sausage and spinach seem more seasonally appropriate right now.

You  know what I'm talking about: "Sunny lunchtime again? Let's eat a chicken and rice bowl on the beach" versus "Plow guy again? Let's eat a sausage and rice bowl in front of the fire."

Additionally, you can file this one under ridiculously fast and easy to prepare, due to the inclusion of boil-in-bag rice, which makes it perfect for the weeknight dinner rotation. Even making fresh rice wouldn't increase the prep time all that much.

(By the way, I believe I warned you early on that I abuse parentheses. They just seem to represent me, talking out of the side of my mouth to make smart-ass comments, as I am wont to do...)

Sausage and Spinach Rice Bowl (adapted from a recipe by Jackie Newgent in Cooking Light)

Note: The hot Italian sausage I buy is plenty hot for me. If you'd like a hotter dish, feel free to add a little crushed red pepper while cooking the sausage.

1 package boil-in-bag rice (white or brown, your choice), or 2 cups of cooked rice
8 ounces hot Italian sausage (remove the casings if using links)
4 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 ounces (basically 1 bag) baby spinach
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cook rice according to package directions and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat, stirring to crumble, about 5 minutes or until cooked. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook for about 30 seconds, or until it begins to wilt. Add the cooked rice to the pan and heat thoroughly. Serve sprinkled with cheese.


  1. I make a smilar bowl of yummy goodness but I make it with cous cous instead of rice and I can't get enough of it. I also enjoy your parentheses - as I too, talk out of the side of my mouth. :)

  2. I make a veggie type rice pilaf (that is what I call it). I saute finely diced onion (there is no rule here...if I have shallots or leeks then you can use those), minced garlic, celery minced, grated carrot, salt and pepper. Saute till soft, add some thinly diced zucchini and cook for another 2 min.,add some chicken broth (maybe 1/3 cup...just enough to moisten. Add some fresh parsley. To cooked rice I add some butter and parm cheese; add veggie mix...Walah! Again, there is no rules here....add what ever veggies you have or like. Oh, and Parentheses is my friend too along with ...... :-)

  3. Excellent -- two more variations to try. Thanks, Rebeckah & Susan!

  4. Grew up in So CA and completely eschewed fish tacos. Now I totally crave them! Miss fish in general, about the only thing I miss about California...okay maybe one or two more things when I'm hacking away at an inch of winter ice on my windshield (why oh why do I not have a garage in Vermont?!). Mad Taco has an entirely acceptable version, yum. I digress, very much enjoying your blog. I've been lurking and enjoying ever since a friend in Albania blogging about bacon mentioned Bacon Oatmeal Cookies (with cherries instead of raisins) and I had to know more!

  5. Thanks for commenting, Jennifer -- glad to see another VT transplant here! Exciting to know that I'm read in Albania... or at least they're digging bacon cookies there. And I totally understand about missing fish -- I miss the fact that there was a GOOD sushi restaurant in nearly every strip mall around. And there was a Target right down the hill from my house, but that's a sore subject, given that we don't have them here. (Sigh)

  6. As always, reading your blog is making me hungry. I'm all about fast lunches, and this one (plus your other version) sounds right up my alley.

    I'm also a big fan of Kashi pilaf; have you ever had that? you prepare it like regular rice, so it takes longer than the quick cook stuff, but I think it has a lot more flavor.

    Anyway, I'm going to try all these verions!

  7. I will check out the pilaf as well, Achmed -- I now have a whole bunch of different options to try.

  8. Sushi, next to Target, across from Chuao chocolatier...*sigh*...still, I love Vermont...

  9. Now THAT made me laugh, Jennifer -- and that's exactly how I feel!

  10. Hm, when I think about Orange County, all I think about are the Real Housewives--my shameful guilty pleasure. :) This sounds like the perfect dinner for a busy day. I need to do rice bowls more often!

  11. I can pretty much guarantee that you won't see this rice bowl anywhere near the "real" housewives. ;-)