My kids love rice as a side dish and I have been looking for recipes that can add a little sparkle to our typical side dish. When hosting my Chari-Tea Bunco night, I bought a large jar of pesto at Sam’s Club for a Pesto Pasta Salad that I served. Since I had plenty leftover, we have been working it into other dishes throughout the week. One night I smeared bread with pesto and Italian cheese and let it sit under the broiler for a couple of minutes as a side with an afternoon salad. Another night, we feasted on paninis with pesto, turkey, and swiss on sourdough.
When I ran across a recipe in one of my cookbooks for rice with pesto, I knew this would make a lovely side with our herb baked tilapia. I honestly wasn’t sure if the kids would eat it though since it did have a light green color to it. They ended up gobbling it up just like those rice mixes in a box and the pesto added delicious flavor as a side to fish. It felt a little more grown-up than the Rice-A-Roni and we all enjoyed this very much.
Rice With Pesto or Herb Oil (from “How To Cook Everything“)
1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
1 1/2 cups basmati or other long-grain rice (I used white long grain rice for this)
2 1/4 cups water
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup pesto or 1 cup fresh herb of your choice: chives, parsley, chervil, or cilantro, 1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil, & 1-2 tablespoons water if needed.
Heat the tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the rice is coated with oil. Add the water and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up a bit and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and turn the heat to medium-low.
After 15 minutes, turn off the heat under the rice, but leave the cover on. Wait 10 minutes, then stir in the pesto or herb oil. Check the seasoning and serve immediately.
If you do not have pesto: While the rice is cooking, rinse the herb and place it in the container of a blender or small food processor. Turn the machine on and gradually add teh 1/4 cup oil. Blend or process until smooth, stopping the machine now and then to stir down the mixture. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water to the mixture; it should be the texture of heavy cream.