Growing up (in Germany) I loved to eat “Wunderreis” (wonder rice) at my godmother’s house. Her mother had made it and she made her own variations. As far as I recall it was rice with whatever bits of vegetables and sometimes meat, and various herbs and spices that seemed appropriate or happened to be within arm’s reach. She was raising four boys and the four of us (my siblings and I) plus all the parents made for a pretty hungry crowd and the pots of Wunderreis seemed to stretch to accommodate all of us. I remember Indonesian-like versions with curry and raisins and carrots and more middle-European version with peas, carrots, and broccoli and grated cheese added at the end.
Last night, after a long day of teaching and meetings I opened the fridge at 6pm to figure out what to make for dinner. The odd bits of vegetables and herbs and the quart of brown rice and two sausages in the freezer came together into a beautiful pan of Wunderreis.
Note: when I looked up Wunderreis I discovered that most all references to this word nowadays refer to the German word for the fraught Golden Rice, to which this post and this dish has no connection even though the turmeric in my version gave it a lovely golden hue!
I used brown Jasmine or basmati (I can’t quite tell) that I had frozen a few weeks earlier. I always make more rice than I need in the moment for just these occasions which is especially useful with brown rice since it takes twice as long to cook. I thaw it by putting it in a pan with 1/2-in or so of water and heating it on medium heat, covered, until I can break it apart. It thawed with this technique in the time it took me to chop and saute the vegetables. If you have a microwave I’m sure that would work too.
As per usual, use whatever vegetables, spices, herbs you want/have on hand and feel free to omit the meat and top with toasted nuts or seeds, etc.
3-4 cups rice (see headnote for how to thaw in a hurry if using frozen), brown, white, short grain, long grain, etc. (or frankly any cooked grain)
1/2 a medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or 2 stalks green garlic or garlic scapes
2 pork sausages (or whatever you want to use or omit–see headnote), sliced
4 cups or more, vegetables, chopped into small-ish bite-sized pieces. Carrots, turnips, radishes, peas, scallions and green garlic are what I used here.
1 teaspoon ground turmeric or 2 teaspoons grated, fresh turmeric
Salt and black pepper
Several pinches of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup or more tender herbs (basil, parsley, chives, . .)
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the largest skillet you have. Add the onions, sausage, if using, garlic and all the vegetables. Season with few few pinches of salt and cook gently (I don’t brown them really in this dish), covered until tender.
Stir in the rice and mix well. Heat through and finally stir in the herbs. Stir in a tablespoon or two of the best olive oil you have. Serve hot! Top with Sriracha or other hot sauce if you like!