Aren't those grains beautiful? The simple beauty of uncooked rice will never escape me, truly.
Earthy and herby, this dish is super simple and very tasty. It takes only about 5 minutes of prep time to throw together, and with the magic of a rice cooker, you don't have to do a thing after that. Just throw everything into the pot, flip the switch, and return to find perfectly cooked rice! I love using a mixture of brown basmati rice and wild rice, but feel free to use all of one or the other, or use another grain instead. Add other vegetables or seasonings as your palette dictates. Easy pilaf wonderment. Serve it with sauteed greens and steamed vegetables, with broiled fish, or with sauteed white beans. Add a scoop to soups or stews. It isn't anything complicated or super fancy, just a good basic pilaf to have in your recipe toolbox. Best yet, it can be made for pennies on the dime. Seriously, from what I figure, it is about $.35 per serving.
A rice cooker is one of the best things you could ever get, in my opinion. There are lots of fancy ones out there on the market, all sorts of different sizes with timers and all sorts of settings. Some come with steaming baskets to use for steaming vegetables or other foods. But don't feel you need to break the bank to get good rice. Mine is super simple, a modest little 8 cup cooker with only two settings (cook or warm). I've had it for about 10 years - it is the same on I had in my dorm room in college - and it still cooks rice just perfectly. The benefit of a rice cooker is that you get perfect rice, every time, without an open flame burning on your stove. I love love love my rice cooker. You can also cook quinoa, millet, and other grains in it. I've even thrown lentils and split moong dal (both quick cooking!) in with my rice before. So simple. I love listening for the switch to flip itself from the "cook" to the "warm" setting. Why? Because I know that twenty minutes of steaming time later, I will open the lid to find fluffy, perfect, delectable rice. Yum.
RICE COOKER WILD BASMATI PILAF
1/2 cup brown basmati rice, soaked 8 hours
1/2 cup wild rice, soaked 8 hours
1/2 onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp dry parsley
1 1/2 tsp dry basil
1/4 tsp dry thyme
1/2-1 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
a glug of olive oil
water or broth
Rinse rice in a colander, put in a bowl, cover with 4 cups fresh water, lightly cover the bowl with a cloth or kitchen towel, and let sit on your counter. Let soak 8 hours. This starts the sprouting process and breaks down the seed coat, which will make the grain more easily digestible.
After soaking, drain and rinse rice, then place in rice cooker. Prepare vegetables as directed, and add to cooker pot, along with herbs and spices, Herbamare/salt, a few turns of fresh pepper, and a glug of olive oil. Add amount of broth/water according to your rice cooker's instructions (I used 2 cups) , and then cook, per your user manual.
Go relax and kick your feet up while your rice cooks. Return later to find perfect rice. Voilà!
SAUTEED VEGETABLE VARIATION
If you want to add about 5 more minutes prep time, lightly saute the onions, garlic, and celery in a saute pan with a little olive oil first, until golden and tender. Add to cooker with rice and herbs, and cook. This will intensify the flavor the vegetables and add a richer flavor the pilaf.
STOVE TOP VARIATION
Don't have a rice cooker? No worries. Place rice, vegetables, herbs, and spices in a pot, add about 2 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Let cook 45-55 minutes, or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.