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Quick!! Something interesting to do to rice as a side dish

There's loads of threads on what to do with large amounts of leftover rice to make it a meal in and of itself (fried rice, rice fritters, rice puddings etc etc etc...)

But I'm looking for something interesting to do tonight with freshly-cooked rice. I've had steaks marinating all day, plan to grill some zucchini along side. Reason I say rice is a) I have plenty, b) we've had potatoes a couple of other times this week, and c) I have a four-year-old who will eat the steak but not the zucchini.. if I do rice I can reserve some of it plain for him before I spruce it up for us (I try to serve us all more or less the same thing whenever possible...)

My fridge and cupboard are pretty well stocked. What to do? Going to start cooking in about half an hour (dinner time is early around here in respect of said 4-year-old's bedtime)...

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  1. Tomatoes cored out and stuffed with rice, cheese, parsley, onions then baked

    Cilantro rice - fine chopped onion and cilantro stirred into cooked warm rice, salt and pepper to taste

    5 Replies
    1. re: absurdnerdbird

      Yep, cilantro rice (well, IF you like the flavor of cilantro...not everyone does) but Robert Lauriston's Cilantro Rice on this board is famous, beautiful to behold and delicious!

      1. re: Val

        Anyone happen to have a link for this?

        1. re: Becca Porter

          BP...here's the link...truly one of my favorite rice dishes!


          1. re: Val

            Wow! I never expected to get so many replies. After Val's post I did a quick look in the recipes section of the site and didn't find the cilantro rice recipe, didn't expect it to be an actual thread.
            Just based on the name and absurd's post I pretty much made the same thing, save I didn't puree the ingredients. I ended up pan-frying the steak so I sauteed onions and garlic with it and then removed it from the pan, added the cilantro with it and stirred in the rice with a bit of oil. I don't think I used nearly enough cilantro, and I didn't use lime juice (although while eating it, I had the thought that lime juice would have been a nice addition). It was good - but not great - so I will definitely give the actual recipe a try as I think it will turn out better than mine.

            To all the other posters, thank you...although if they were after 4:45 pm they were alas too late. We made the said 4-yo try the cilantro rice which was met with the expected over-dramatic disgust...thanks for the risotto recipe M but even cheesy-rice has failed with this overly picky eater. Sigh...hope he finds his inner hound some day. If not, it won't be for our lack of trying.

            1. re: 16crab

              I don't blame him, I don't like cilantro either - way too overpowering.

              Try a simple rice pilaf saute like mine or Mr O's. Subtle flavor, easy, good.

    2. make some plain separate for your boy.

      cook in stock or 1/2 orange juice instead of plain water. you can also toast the rice in a hot skillet til it's brown before adding the cooking liquid. this gives a nice nutty flavor. when it's cooked dress it up with lots of fresh herbs, parsley and basil, toasted nuts, maybe some goat cheese or a sharper cheese and grated lemon zest. and butter.

      mix cheese and pesto or tapenade into it.

      do you have mushrooms? make duxelles and add that in.

      add frozen corn, cilantro, black beans, olive oil and lime juice, maybe a little salsa

      1. Same here... please post if you get some brilliant ideas elsewhere. I'd love to do rice more often but with a 7 year old, we have the same conundrum you have - early bedtimes, and not much time 'twixt coming home and dinner to get something done. The main dish is usually mapped out pretty well but it's the sides that send to trip me up. On th eplus size, mine will eat pretty much anything except very hot stuff. Mine will go for a zucchini-tomato garlic kinda thing so If I sautee the rice and garlic together, till golden then cook with the tomato (canned), zucchini, and the rest of the volumne needed of water, that ought to be pretty tasty. top with some parmesan and with the steak on the size I think everyone will like it. Sort of a italian rice instead of a spanish rice.

        1. Roast some beets in the oven, microwave, steamer, whatever. Cool, cut into small cubes.

          Start rice in the rice cooker as always. When the liquid is mostly evaporated, drop the beets on top. Do not mix. Continue cooking rice till it is done.

          Some of the rice in contact or near the beets will now a beautiful red color; the rest will not. That's good. Mix the beets in quickly and gently. The idea is not to create a bowl of red rice, but this gorgeous confetti of red and white rice, with beets in it.

          Looks great, tastes great. Goes with anything.

          1. Here's my favorite rice dish, very fast and easy, taught to me by the previous Mrs. O who got it from her Armenian grandma. So you thought Rice-A-Roni was invented by a food company in San Francisco? Ha!

            Basic Pilaf

            2 Tbs butter, or 1 ea of butter and olive oil
            1 cup broken up vermicelli (I like the nested kind best)
            cayenne pepper
            1 cup uncooked rice
            2 cups chicken broth

            Melt butter in a heavy 2-qt. saucepan over med-high heat. When it foams, stir in vermicelli, add a dash or two of cayenne, and keep stirring until it turns golden brown. Stir in rice, keep stirring until the grains turn chalky white. Dump in chicken broth ALL AT ONCE (this cools the mixture enough so it'll fizzle like crazy but it won't boil over). When it comes to a good boil, turn the flame to very low and cover tightly. Simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked and all liquid is absorbed. Taste for seasoning, fluff with fork and serve. This reheats better than plain rice does.

            Peas, carrots, fresh herbs or all kinds of things can be added to this. Its best gig, I think, is as a bed over which to lay your cooked lamb shishkabob. It's also a very good stuffing for butterflied pork or lamb roasts.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Will Owen

              This is generic "Rice-a-Roni" which is one of my major comfort foods. Carried two boxes to Rio recently :)

              1. re: c oliver

                It's really good out of the box, TONS better from scratch, and not really that much harder to do... unless you're stuck with a hotel-room microwave!

                1. re: Will Owen

                  We have an apt. there so this can definitely be made there. And I really like the idea of making with broth instead of water. I also sometimes saute in the R-R some red onions and garlic and add capers and grated cheese for an additional 5 minutes on low at the end. Making me HUNGRY :)

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Tell me about it. I did a pork tenderloin last night and REALLY wanted pilaf, but got all virtuous and baked a "Fiesta" squash instead, partly because it was so pretty. Big mistake - stringy and dull, yuck. So guess what I'm making to go with the leftovers...!

            2. I do a simple pilaf like Mr. O.

              The easiest version: I saute the rice in some butter. Add chicken stock as my liquid. Add a smashed lemon grass stalk, or a inch long piece of peeled, fresh ginger. Remove after cooking. The rice takes on a nicely seasoned taste without being overpowered by the ginger.

              1. I just copied this from my blog. I love this recipe, it is so good.

                I got the recipe for this green rice on the Cook's Illustrated's bulletin board a while back. So far back, that I have no memory of who posted it or what thread it was on. I have searched for it to no avail. I am sure that the original poster would not mind if I post the recipe here. I just wish I could give her credit for it. (If it was your recipe, please tell me in the comments section so I can thank you!)

                Green Rice

                1 cup raw rice, cooked normally (basmati or popcorn rice is best)
                6 T. unsalted butter (Please do not reduce the butter until you've tried it this way!)
                2-3 stalks of celery (with leaves), chopped (I didn't really read the directions and used 5-6)
                1 bunch green onions, chopped
                a handful of Italian parsley, chopped, if you have it
                salt and pepper to taste

                Start your rice cooking. I cooked one cup popcorn rice in two cups water, with a bay leaf and some salt thrown in for good measure.

                While the rice is cooking melt butter in a large saucepan over med-high heat. The original poster mentions that she lets the butter brown a little, so do I it is delicious. Add the vegetables. Let them cook for about 15 minutes until they are caramelized and have reduced by about 50%. Reduce the heat to low as necessary to prevent it from burning. Turn off the heat.

                When the rice and the vegetables are ready, add the rice to the skillet. Add salt to taste and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Unbelievably good!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Becca Porter

                  Do you include the parsley in the 15-minute saute, or do you add it at the end?

                  1. re: Becca Porter

                    I also do "Green Rice" often.

                    I just cook the rice, adding salt & a bit of butter to the water, when the rice is done, I add chopped green onion, parsley and spinach, leave it on top of the rice, cover, let sit until the vegetables are a bit wilted. Then stir in and serve.

                  2. This might be too late but... my kids love risotto so much I came up with fauxsotto aka cheesy rise:

                    In a pan with a good lid melt 2-3 Tbsp butter
                    add 1/2 fine diced onion to butter and saute until translucent or 1 Tbsp dried onion or 1tsp onion powder with rice
                    add 1clove of garlic minced or 1 tsp jarred to butter saute 1 min or 1 tsp garlic powder with rice
                    add 1 cup rice saute until opaque
                    add 1 1/2 c broth or base/bullion and water
                    cover, bring to boil, reduce to simmer 20 min.
                    Take off heat (could add frozen petite peas at this time)
                    Rest covered for 5-10min
                    Fluff rice
                    add 1/3 c (or more) grated Parmesan or other cheese (cheddar is good)
                    add herbs if any (parsley)
                    add 3/4c + milk and stir to desired consistency.
                    Everybody likes cheesy rice :-}

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: just_M

                      A bit hit with us is a rice and mushroom pilaf derived from the Mexican approach to arroz blanco. I use medium-grain rice, as I like the flavor (Kokuho Rose, from Costco). Soak the rice in water and leave it to drain in a sieve to moisten it thoroughly. Meanwhile soak your favorite dried mushroom--I like the gourmet mix from Costco or straight dried porcini mushrooms--an ounce or two will do. Lift the mushrooms out of the soaking liquid (you can use broth or water). Grit will have settled out from the 'shrooms. So filter the soaking water or broth through a fine sieve or a coffee filter. Reserve the liquid. Chop the mushrooms. Mince some onion--don't overdo it, maybe an ounce and a half per cup of rice. (I use about 1/6 of a very large onion for three cups of rice.) Fry the drained rice in oil or butter and stir it until the grains turn chalky white. Add the onions and chopped mushrooms. Keep stirring until the onions are transparent. Meanwhile, heat a mixture of broth and water (use the soaking liquid). You want 1 1/4 cups of hot liquid for each cup of rice. Pour it into the pan with the rice, onions, and mushrooms and bring the pot to a boil, cover tightly, turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting (use a simmer mat if need be) and let it cook slowly for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for another five or ten minutes before serving.

                    2. for next time
                      cook the rice
                      brown 1 lb ground beef
                      prepare 1 pkg pepperidge farm stuffing mix
                      add onions/celery whatever

                      stir in rice and ground beef

                      I could live on this

                      1. To cooked rice, I add sriracha, scallions, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and any veggies laying around. It's easy and crack-like.

                        1. I realize the OP is not looking for new replies but for others trying to get rice into a kid, an easy, slightly sweet pilaf is a good approach (and grownups like it too). It's also very nice as a complement to a spicy curry.

                          Start by sauteing the rice in butter (about 1 tbsp butter to each cup of dry rice) until it's just starting to brown a little, then add a mix of slivered almonds, raisins, and gojo berries (if you have some - they add a lovely color) - all together a handful or so per cup of rice - and a couple of good shakes of cinnamon. Mix well, then add the liquid (water or chicken broth, as you prefer) and cook without stirring until all the liquid is absorbed. Give it a stir when it's done to distribute the raisins & nuts and serve.