Rice is one of those universal staples found in kitchens all over the world. It’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, and the number of ways it can be prepared is practically infinite.  It’s both exotic and simple, and you very likely have some in your cupboard. We’ve curated a rather large number of recipes, so if you’re looking for ways to put that rice to work, check out the links below for main dishes, sides, salads and desserts.

While there are tens of thousands of rice varieties, they’re all broken down into three very basic categories: long-grain, medium-grain and short-grain rice.

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Long-Grain Rice: The grains are slim, long and have a firm, dry texture.  They cook up fluffy and don’t clump together the way short grain rice can.  It’s the most forgiving rice, and it’s best for side dishes, pilafs, and salads. American long-grain (white & brown), Basmati and Jasmine rice are examples.

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Medium-Grain Rice: This rice is a bit more stout than long grain rice, roughly half as wide as it is long, and it produces moist, tender and slightly chewy grains that stick to each other when cooked. Medium grain rice is perfect for risotto and paella. Think Arborio and Valencia for risotto and Bomba for paella.

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Short-Grain Rice: This rice is plump – wider than it is long.  It cooks up soft and tender and is known for sticking together and clumping. Use short-grain rice for sushi, molded salads, and puddings.  American short-grain brown & white rice and sushi rice are common varieties.

Short-grain and Medium-grain rice often get lumped into the same category, which can be somewhat confusing. These are somewhat loose guidelines, so don’t get too hung up on them. And while you can certainly make some substitutions in your recipes, you will definitely want to check online if have any questions about doing so.

COOKING METHODS

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MAIN DISHES

Photo: Eric Wolfinger | Erin Kunkel & Weldon Owens | Lennart Weibull | Martin Poole

SIDES & SALADS

Photo: Rolando Beramendi | thesomegirls (iStock/Getty Images Plus) | Lamees Dahbour

DESSERTS

Photo: Christopher Testani | Sue Quinn

Jennifer Russell

Jennifer Russell is a founding producer at The Splendid Table. Before coming to radio, she made historical and arts and cultural programming for public television. She claims to have come out of the womb a food lover -- when other girls played house, she played restaurateur. Follow her comings and goings on Twitter: @jenejentweets.