September is National Rice Month and Mississippi residents, especially those living in the Delta, are celebrating.
Mississippi ranks sixth among states that produce rice.
The versatile grain packs a lot of nutrition in its tiny grains. Rice is rich in more than 15 vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc and iron. Rice is a complex carbohydrate, which can provide long-lasting energy.
Wild, brown, red, and black rice are also 100 percent whole grain and provide fiber. Rice is a good choice if you need to serve guests with food allergies. It is gluten-free and is less allergenic than other grains.
Mississippi State Extension provided these other facts about Mississippi rice:
■ More than 12.5 million hundredweight of rice was produced in 2020.
■ Mississippi has 221 rice-producing farms.
■ Approximately 170,000 acres of rice were harvested in 2020.
■ Value of production for rice in 2020 was $138 million.
■ Bolivar County produces the largest acreage of rice.
■ Rice is grown in the Delta in Bolivar, Coahoma, Desoto, Humphreys, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tunica and Washington Counties.
■ Mississippi’s rice crop is harvested in August and September.
Rice can be featured in recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
If you really want to try all that rice has to offer, Merigold will host the Rice Festival from 4-7 p.m. Sept. 16.
“This year will mark 31 years of celebrating rice during the third week of September in Bolivar County,” said Mississippi State University Extension Service coordinator and agent Laura Giaccaglia, who works with the Delta Rice Promotions Board to organize the event.
“Even though we are doing things in a different way this year, our focus is still to make the public aware of the versatility of rice and to show appreciation to those who are in the rice industry,” she said.
Attendees can taste rice dishes from local restaurants, shop with vendors, see exhibits, and enjoy music and children’s activities. A rice queen also will be announced.
The event is open to the public. Admission is free and does not require a ticket.
ITALIAN BEEF AND RICE
1 pound lean ground beef
½ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped green pepper
¼ cup finely chopped celery
2 14.5 ounce cans of Italian-style tomatoes
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley (optional)
1 cup frozen cut-leaf spinach
2 cups cooked, unsalted rice
■ Turn the eye of the stove to medium-high heat.
■ In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion, green pepper, and celery. Cook until beef is completely browned and the onion is clear.
■ Pour off any fat.
■ Add the Italian-style tomatoes, parsley and spinach to meat mixture in the skillet.
■ Cover the skillet. Simmer for 15 minutes, bubbling gently.
■ Add the rice to the mixture in the skillet. Stir gently to mix all the ingredients together.
■ Keep cooking until the rice is hot.