Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rice Pilaf & Roasted Broccoli

I like rice as well as the next gal, but up until several months ago, I settled on instant rice.  It was hard to mess up that kind and I didn't end up with a glob of white goo that was all stuck together or undercooked.  Until now.  I found this recipe in a cookbook from the library, and knowing that the good Christopher Kimball tested it until it worked perfectly was all the confidence that I needed to attempt real rice (and be successful at it!!)  A little bit of know-how and a couple tricks was all it took!  Now, sorry little red box of instant rice, you'll have to move over on the shelf to make room for a bag of little white rice grains just waiting for their chance in the boiling water!!

Now, on to the next side dish.....I love broccoli.  I hate frozen broccoli.  The flowers are my favorite part, and quite frankly, a bag of frozen broccoli is usually more stems than flowers.  So, I buy fresh.  And usually I steam it when I serve broccoli hot.  Good enough.  Until now.  I looked at my head of broccoli that was destined for the steamer, and had an epiphany.  "I'm going to roast this."  You know, cooking from a cookbook is great, but I love it when I can pull something together without a recipe, relying on my previous knowledge and skills that I've learned along the way.  'Cause let me tell you, roasted broccoli is superb!!!  You are going to just have to try it!!

Rice Pilaf
America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

3 tbl. unsalted butter (or olive oil)
1/2 onion, minced
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice, rinsed and drained (or jasmine rice)
2 1/4 cups water *(this is less water than the package will call for.  Your rice will be fluffy and not "waterlogged.")
*sometimes I add a handful of frozen peas, freshly minced parsley,  or sauteed mushrooms.  You have the freedom to be creative!

In a fine mesh colander, rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Gently shake to remove all excess water.  *(Tip:  rinsing the rice removes the excess starch that causes the grains to clump together.)
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and 1 tsp. salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the drained rice.  Saute until the edges of the rice begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes.  *(Tip:  toasting the grains of rice enhances the subtle nuttiness of the rice, bringing out a better flavor.)

Stir in the water and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat to low.  Cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 17 minutes.

Transfer the pot to a cold burner or trivet and let the rice stand for 10 minutes.  Fluff the rice with a fork. Add any preferred toppings now. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Broccoli

1-2 heads of fresh broccoli, stems cut short or long according to your preference
1-2 tbl. olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
Place broccoli spears on a lipped baking sheet in one layer.
Drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tender, and broccoli takes on a roasted look (deep green, with a bit of golden brown on the tips of the flowers.)
Enjoy the deep, intense, nutty flavor!!  ;)

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