Rice and vermicelli pilaf is one of the many rice dishes that make a regular rotation at our dinner table. The packaged kind (Rice-a-Roni, anyone?) was my quick route to this delicious dish for years, up until a few months ago when I learned how easy it was to make it from scratch. Sure, the recipe involves a bit more work than opening a box but I like that I can control the salt and additives that go into my food, especially something I enjoy quite often.
I’ve tried on many occasions to re-create this classic Armenian dish at home but without success. Although the flavor was spot on, my attempts lacked the fluffy texture of my favorite Rice-a-Roni. The rice always came out dry and underdone! Good thing I came across a tutorial at Cook’s Illustrated and discovered how to make this classic San Francisco treat the right way.
As pasta and rice have varied cook times, the trick to cooking the rice as perfectly tender as the pasta is to soak the grains in hot water for about 10 minutes to soften its outer shell and allow it to absorb water faster. By taking this simple step, this rice and vermicelli pilaf comes out just as delicious, yet a whole lot healthier, as from the box.
What to pair this amazing side dish with? This brined roasted chicken is a favorite. As well as this juicy BBQ ribs. Or even this salsa-mayo topped salmon. Most times, I just heap a generous mound on my plate and enjoy it on its own!
- 1½ cups long grain white rice
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces
- 1 onion, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2½ cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons almond slivers, toasted
- ½ bunch fresh parsley, stemmed and finely chopped
- In a bowl, combine rice and enough hot tap water to cover at about 2 inches. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Drain water. Rinse rice with cold tap water 4 to 5 times or until water runs almost clear. In a fine-mesh strainer, drain rice.
- in a sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until browned. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 to 4 minutes or softened but not browned.
- Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until edges of rice becomes translucent. Add broth and salt. Bring to boil. Lower heat, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
- Remove pan from heat. Remove lid, cover pan with a folded kitchen towel and replace lid. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes.
- With a fok, fluff rice. Stir in almond slivers and parsley. Serve hot.