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Rice, Backwoods (D, TNT)
Source: "Meatless Cooking: Celebrity Style," by Janet Barkas
Serves: 4 to 5

6 tbsp. butter (can substitute 1/4 cup olive oil)
2 small stalks celery (including leaves), chopped
2/3 cup scallions (white part only), sliced (can substitute 2 onions, peeled and chopped)
1 large green pepper, coarsely diced
1 tsp. salt-free seasoning
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
2 to 2-1/2 cups (8 to 10 oz.) aged cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes
4 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup whole almonds, pine nuts, and/or whole nuts of your choice
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds and/or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried raisins, golden raisins, chopped apricots, and/or chopped apples
2 large tomatoes, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths (If unavailable, can substitute canned tomatoes or omit altogether)
2 tbsp. water

Melt butter in Dutch oven. Add celery, scallions, green pepper, salt-free seasoning, pepper, and salt. Cook over low flame, stirring occasionally, to heat vegetables (about 1 minute). Turn off flame under pot.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To above mixture, stir in rice, cheese, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits; mix well. Arrange tomatoes on top and sprinkle with water. Cover tightly and bake until cheese is partially melted, but vegetables are still crisp and retain their color (about 15 minutes). Serve at once.

The fruits and nuts can be varied according to your personal preference, or eliminated altogether. Just remember to use a maximum of 1/2 cup dried fruits unless you like very sweet rice dishes.

To reduce calories and cholesterol, 2 to 4 tbsp. olive oil can be substituted for the butter. If preferred, wild rice can be substituted for brown rice.

Poster's Notes:
This reportedly comes from actor Dennis Weaver, who has been a strict vegetarian for many years, and whose wife used to run a health food store. This is comparatively quick and easy to make, and very good (albeit decidedly "different"). It is nice to keep on hand, since leftovers are excellent reheated.

To make this in the summertime, just heat it on top of the stove instead of in the oven. Obviously, it can be varied to suit your own tastes and garden.

Posted by Virginia Sauer (Sir Angus), Z'L

Nutritional Info Per Serving: N/A