Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Confetti Rice


This side dish requires a bit of prep, but it comes together very easily once the chopping is done. Because the flavors are very simple and clean, it makes a perfect side to a meat dish that has more complex flavors or is very rich. It could also, with the addition of some Cajun-seasoned sauteed shrimp or leftover cooked chicken, beef or pork, quickly become an easy main dish. Again, the rice is so simple that leftovers seasoned almost any way will work in it!

I always use par-boiled rice - the kind Uncle Ben's has been pushing for years. It isn't as sticky, never needs rinsing and is perfect for these dishes where the broth cooks until almost gone. I used chicken broth, but this is made completely vegetarian by swapping that for veggie stock instead.
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into small dice
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped into small dice
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 2 small plum tomatoes - diced small - toss the seeds and glop in the middle
  • 2 cups par-boiled rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 low-sodium chicken stock cubes or veggie stock cubes (I like Knorr)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small bay leaf
Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large, heavy pot. Add garlic, and when garlic is fragrant (after about a minute), add onions and peppers. Let cook about 10 minutes, stirring often. Season with freshly ground pepper. Add the rice, and stir well to coat with oil and mix with vegetables. Saute the rice for five minutes.

Add wine, raise heat to high and let cook until wine is almost cooked away. Add water, bay leaf and stock cubes. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium. Cook covered, on medium, about 25 minutes or until rice is tender and stock is almost completely absorbed. Add tomatoes about 15 minutes through cooking. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.

As I said, I made this deliberately simple to go with the insanely rich chicken dish I am posting next week, but if you want to season it a bit, try these variations:
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme to go with a simpler or grilled herbed chicken dish
  • 1/2 teaspoon each basil and oregano to accompany grilled Italian sausages
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning for a spicier dish; several dashes of Tabasco are great for that too
  • For more of a Spanish-style rice, triple the tomatoes and add them to the vegetables before adding the rice. Add 1 teaspoon paprika.
  • A handful of either frozen corn or frozen peas is good in this too!

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