Is anyone else craving comfort food in a big way? For Valentine’s Day dinner we splurged with some fresh Santa Barbara Lobster which was amazing. While we tossed around ideas of what to serve with it I kept coming back to a restaurant we would eat at when I was a kid that served rice pilaf with their lobster. After reading the back of a box of the beloved treat, I got to work on my own recipe. Since that evening we have enjoyed this comfort food many times.
During these challenging times, we are living while in this COVID pandemic I am turning to comfort food more often than not. Recipes from the past that make me feel warm and cuddly inside and this recipe does exactly that. I know you are wondering why wouldn’t I pick up a box of rice pilaf and call it day. Have you seen the amount of sodium as well as sugar in these packaged meals? Plus, I have nothing but time on my hands now so why not make it myself. All you need is a little time and maybe a couple of extra ingredients that you may not have but are readily available.
What is the difference between rice pilaf and regular rice? The number one difference is the cooking technique. Rice is typically cooked with water. Rice Pilaf is cooked with aromatics along with a broth and usually meat to create a seasoned recipe. I like to omit the meat, and add some extra ingredients to bulk up the rice pilaf recipe.
One of those extra ingredients is orzo. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that gives the golden color to rice pilaf. I always keep some on hand as it is a great filler for soups as well I make this really great skillet dish that I have not made in years (use to be a favorite college meal). Most of the boxes that I researched also called for peas. I tried the first round with peas and felt it they didn’t add any value, so now I leave them out. If you really love peas in your rice pilaf then stir in a few.
I do add a bit herb de Provence as it adds a fresh flavor to the recipe as well I stir in parsley as well as some mint before serving. If you do not have jasmine rice on hand I have tried making it with balsamic rice and it comes out very well. If you decide to use another rice then you may have to increase the liquid so keep this in mind when changing around the recipe to suit your pantry.
Recipe: Rice Pilaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup yellow onion, minced
- 3/4 cup celery, minced
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup orzo
- 1/2 cup jasmine rice
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock, no sodium
- 1/2 teaspoon herb de Provence
- 2 bay leaves
- handful parsley or mint, minced
- In a deep frying pan that has a lid heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.
- Add the yellow onion, stir and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the celery and garlic, stir and cook for 3 more minutes. Place the cooked ingredients into a bowl and set aside.
- Pour the orzo into the pan, stir and cook over medium-low heat until lightly golden brown. Add the jasmine rice and the onion/celery mixture stir to coat well.
- Stir in the stock, herb de Provence, bay leaves, and stir. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer and cover. Let cook for 15 minutes, the liquid should almost be absorbed completely. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork, remove the bay leaves, and stir in the parsley or mint or both.