2016 was the year our family bought and broke at least half a dozen rice cookers. And not just broke, I mean we burnt right through them. No idea why- I guess we’re hard on our rice cookers? Sadly, I’m not exaggerating this number, and have various Sainsburys and Amazon receipts (somewhere…) to prove it . Can I cook rice in a normal pot? Yes I can. But given our general sway towards Asian cuisine (I’ve also worked with an Asian cookery school and chef for nearly ten years now which only feeds into the tendency) a rice cooker has become somewhat of an essential in our household, especially when it comes to getting several components of dinner and children to the table in a reasonable fashion. In 2017 we finally gave in, accepted our rice cooker curse, and bought the new and trendy Instant Pot pressure-cooker-meets-slow-cooker that the internet was raving about. A slightly pricier investment to our thirty quid rice cookers (Instant Pot’s going rate is about £110 now), but given that we have yet to burn through it like we did our succession of rice cookers, I consider it to be a worthwhile investment.
Fast forward to 2019 and though we still use this piece of cooking equipment at least once a week for rice, I admit I haven’t really used the Instant Pot to its full potential otherwise. Perhaps this is the year that changes. I can tell you that it makes delicious rice, and seriously fast and creamy beans, which sometimes is all you need.
As we continue down the fast-paced journey into the next stage in life: girls both in school and after school activities starting to line up, we’ve hit several big bumps in the road; one being how the hell to get dinner on the table the second the girls and I walk in the door from their activity before someone is in a puddle of angry tears on the floor. It feels like we’ve regressed back into the panicky hangry toddler days- but with bigger sets of lungs and a wider range of vocabulary of names to call me out of hanger and exhaustion… save me Instant Pot.
This past week, in the hopes of having something warm and ready after lugging the girls to swimming lessons after school and then back home on the bus at rush hour, heavy soggy towels and chlorine stench and all, I attempted to sidestep the regular showing of raging four year old tantrum with a little Instant Pot pre-gaming. While I had been making a spiced coconut wild rice for a while now (so delicious!), adding a tin of cannellini beans, a couple of diced shallots, and a few balls of chopped frozen spinach rounded out my already go-to rice dish. All that was left to do when we got home was add some pomegranate seeds (a worthwhile 95p investment!), frozen peas and a dollop of yoghurt before serving. Angry tears from a tired little girl still followed, but at least it wasn’t from hunger this time round. Small victories.
Instant Pot Spiced Coconut Wild Rice and Beans
3 cups or 480g of dry wild rice, rinsed
1 tin cannellini beans, or beans of your choice
1-2 shallots, finely chopped
2 balls/pellets chopped frozen spinach
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tin full fat coconut milk – shake this up first so milk solids and water combine
1 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
Just before serving:
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 fresh pomegranate, de-seeded
Measure out the rice, tip into a sieve and run under the cold tap, using your fingers to sift and stir the rice until water runs clear. This process rinses out the excess starch from the rice so the grains don’t stick together when cooked.
Tip the washed rice into your Instant Pot, followed by all other ingredients listed above in the suggested order, save the peas and pomegranate seeds.
Give the mixture a good stir before sealing the lid. Make sure your vent dial at the top is switched to closed, then set ‘manual’ button to 4 minutes. The pot will then heat up, pressure cooking the rice mixture for 4 minutes before beeping, after which you can just let it go to its ‘warm’ function for 10 further minutes or longer if you’re out and about (thankfully the pot keeps a running timer) before carefully releasing the pressure vent. Once all air has been released you are safe to turn and lift the lid.
Give the rice a stir and fluff with a fork, then tip in the peas, stir again and serve. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and garnish with a good scoop of Greek-style natural yoghurt if you like. This dish is only mildly spiced for a more family-friendly appeal, so feel free to add additional condiments and garnishes to spice it up.