Rice Pilaf

I live in a neighborhood filled with Armenian and Lebanese businesses. Or, as I like to think of it, filled with Armenian and Lebanese food. Falafel (sadly, not available to me as nobody around here makes a gluten-free version), kebabs, hummus (oh, the hummus!), and, of course, rice pilaf. Unfortunately, many of the establishments in my ‘hood cook their pilaf with wheat-based vermicelli, so finding tasty pilaf is a bit tougher than it should be.

Hence, making my own. This recipe is fairly simple, and you can make the rest of the meal while the rice is cooking and resting. I like doing this in the oven, but you can do it on the stovetop if you prefer. I was discussing the recipe via Facebook with a friend; she talked about how her mother made pilaf…and there was no skimping on the butter! I try to be a little more health conscious these days, but do sometimes increase the amount of butter when I make this dish.

Seriously, butter. Use it liberally!

Risotto with Peas, Ricotta, and Lemon

Once upon a time, I was scared of weeknight risotto. Everyone said it required too much time, too much stirring, too much attention. The latter, alas, is true. As is the stirring part. But you can whip out an excellent risotto in under 45 minutes.

This recipe reminds me of Spring.  The peas — fresh or frozen — add a lovely flavor. And the lemon adds freshness. Plus, if you can think of a better way to use up leftover ricotta, I am eager to hear your secret recipes!

Final note: I love me some bacon (or, prosciutto), but just omit it for a vegetarian option. Or serve the crumbled salty pork on the side. Also, substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock for a truly vegetarian meal.

Pesto Rice — A Gluten-Free Rice Enhancement

It took me a long time to come to pesto. In theory, it was everything I loved, yet my first experiences with it were…underwhelming. I just didn’t like it. This was disappointing.

Then one day, I decided it was time to try pesto again. This time, our relationship took. I try to find ways to add pesto to everything. Sometimes this is not the best of ideas, sometimes it works out amazingly well.

As in this recipe. When my husband saw what I planned to do, he wanted no part of it. Rice should be rice, and pesto goes on pasta (and pizza and…). Then he tasted it, and wondered why I thought it would be a bad idea. Yeah.

Also, this is a quick way to gussy up weeknight rice (and use up leftover pesto sauce, if you have any). Since I always do a big batch of rice in the steamer to make meals during the week go faster, I just heat what I need in the microwave.

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