It shouldn’t surprise you to know we don’t always have a gourmet meal every night. Most evenings our meal is rather plain, with meat some sort of vegetable or salad and a side dish. This type of meal is easy to put together quickly, especially if you keep a few staples on hand. Unfortunately, it can get pretty boring. One way to “liven up” the meal is to pick one component and make it stand out from the rest of the plate. Recently, instead of plain old white rice, I made a pistachio thyme pilaf to complement the chicken and green beans served.
A pilaf is a rice dish where seasoned broth is used instead of water to cook the rice. Frequently meat or vegetables are stirred into the rice as well. Sometimes you’ll come across a pilaf that’s finished in the oven, but ours will be cooked entirely on the stove. I used chicken broth, thyme and chopped pistachio nuts to flavor my pilaf. Since this is a method for cooking rice, it’s easy to make substitutions. You could easily turn this into a one pot meal by adding some sort of protein.
I’m perfectly aware there are several product lines of rice in a pouch or box, but really, it’s so simple to make at home where you can control the seasonings and other ingredients. I encourage you to try making your own. Plus I can almost guarantee there’s no pistachio thyme pilaf available commercially. I hope you’re willing to Go Boxless and give it a try.
- ½ medium onion
- ¼ cup olive oil
- pinch red pepper flake
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme (2 teaspoons if using fresh)
- 1 cup broth
- 1 cup medium or long grain rice
- ¼ cup chopped pistachio, more or less
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large sauce pan with a tight fitting lid, saute the onions in the olive oil and pepper flakes over medium heat until they start to soften and change color.
- Add the rice all at once and stir until well coated with the oil. Continue stirring until the rice changes color. It will become almost translucent with the hard center in the middle of the grain.
- Stir in the broth and thyme. Allow to come to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and cover with the lid.
- Cook for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Stir in the pistachios before serving.
I want you to notice, I’ve arranged the plate according to the principles we discussed in this post on portion sizes. Half the 9-inch plate is filled with green beans, a quarter with the pistachio thyme pilaf (I used a half cup measure) and a quarter for the chicken. The chicken was a breast half that had been filleted the long way in order to make 6 quick cooking portions per pound. I also served a cut up orange and a glass of water to complete the meal which was filling and satisfying.
Have you made a pilaf or similar dish from scratch before? How did it turn out?