This is a side dish with a perfect bite. Savory basmati rice, orzo, and pignoli (pine nuts) married with onion, peas, and Parmesan cheese. Rice Pilaf with Pignoli, Peas, and Cheese is a homogenous bite of savory, crunchy, cheesy, and fresh.
You can serve this side with almost anything: pork, chicken, fish; proteins on the lighter side, I would advise. This side is a most welcome variation from traditional rice or potatoes or noodles. I can’t emphasize enough the phenomenal addition of pine nuts. Walnuts, pecans, especially slivered almonds are respectful substitutes. Whatever you decide, don’t exclude toasted nutmeats. I have not made this recipe with brown basmati or another brown rice, because the cooking time may be off.
Rice Cooking Tip: Don’t over boil the rice. The initial heat should be to boiling without the lid, and then immediately to a gentle simmer with the lid on for 12-15 minutes. I don’t know what your stove considers a “gentle simmer.” You must understand your equipment: gas or electric or induction. I love you, but you should figure it out. Otherwise, everything with perfect rice is bad, very bad.
When cooking any type of rice, once the cooking time has expired, take the pot off the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, put the lid back on, and let the rice sit for 10 minutes before serving. If the rice is undercooked, letting it rest cures a multitude of sins.
I put a pat of butter, a Tablespoon, into the cooking liquid as the rice comes to a boil, regardless of the type of rice. You will not imagine the different flavor ordinary rice takes on with a simple bit of fat.
Let’s cook some, shall we?
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup sweet yellow onion, sliced in strips
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ¾ cup basmati rice, uncooked
- ½ cup orzo, uncooked
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup pignoli (pinenuts), toasted, substitute slivered raw almonds, or raw walnuts, pecans, also toasted
- ½ cup frozen peas
- ¼ - ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- I like to use my favorite Guardian Ware pot for this or you may use any 2.5 - 3-quart heavy bottomed pot with a lid.
- Heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally so the onion browns but not burns.
- Add garlic. Cook for less than 1 minute, or until you can smell the garlic fragrance.
- Add rice and orzo. Cook for 2 minutes, making sure all the grains are coated in oil.
- Add broth and salt.
- Heat until boiling. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low.
- Cook for 12-15 minutes, until all the liquid, is absorbed.
- Remove the pan from heat. Let sit covered for 10 minutes.
- Add pignoli, cheese, and peas. Stir lightly until combined. Cover and let steep for an additional 10 minutes.