We have returned from the land of perpetual springtime (Circle B Kitchen West) and are not at all surprised to find ourselves smack dab back in the middle of winter. It’s snowing as I write this, and I have to say that as gorgeous as the Central Coast of California is in February, somehow it just feels right to be cold. It’s winter. We should expect to suffer a little. Life should make sense, you know? This is what I tell myself as I trudge through snow and mud to get to the chicken coop with frozen fingers and a bad attitude.
But on a brighter note - because we really do prefer the brighter note as opposed to the whiney “winter sucks” tone of the previous paragraph - the brighter note is that I’m making salmon for dinner and this is what we’re having on the plate next to it… one of my all-time favorite side dishes of the past few years. I realize that didn’t make much sense what I just said, but in a way it sort of does. I’ve been making this pilaf for the past couple of years, but I love it so much that it has eclipsed my love for all other side dishes, or something like that.
But you get the idea… I love the stuff, and that automatically qualifies it for its very own page on the blog . This is a friendly dish. It will happily share a plate with a sophisticated rack of lamb or cozy up to a simple roast chicken.
Mostly you just toast some pine nuts,
sauté some shallots, toast your vermicelli,toss in the rice
and some chicken stock and let it cook. When it’s done, stir in the pine nuts and some chopped parsley. That’s sort of the Cliff Notes version, but there’s not much more to it than that.
I realize, people, I really do, that it’s a little hard to get excited about a side dish. I mean, we’re not exactly breaking the culinary sound barrier here. By their very definition, side dishes are not the star on your plate, but this one has just enough spunk to maybe steal a little main course thunder now and then. Here’s the recipe…
JASMINE RICE PILAF WITH PINE NUTS AND VERMICELLI
1 cup of jasmine rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups vermicelli or coiled fideo, broken into 2-3 – inch lengths
½ cup pinenuts
1 large shallot, chopped
1 ¾ cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
2-tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Rinse the rice 2 or 3 times and drain thoroughly (see note below).
In a 2-3 quart sauté pan, toast the pinenuts until lightly browned. Keep an eye on these because they can burn quickly. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the shallot and sauté until soft. Add the vermicelli. Brown the vermicelli, turning with tongs or a metal spatula so it browns evenly without burning. When the vermicelli has taken on some nice color, add the rice to the pan and continue to toast for another couple of minutes.
This is the point at which I like to dump this in my rice cooker with the salt and chicken broth and push “cook”. But if you don’t have a rice cooker, then just add the chicken broth and salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes are up, remove the pan from the heat and let is sit, covered for another 5-6 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in the toasted pinenuts and chopped parsley, reserving a sprinkling of the pinenuts for the top.