'Tis the season: The few weeks leading up to the holidays, consisting of hurrying here and there, parties, potlucks, late days in the office trying to get things done before vacation, etc etc etc. The period when you don't have the time or the inclination to cook, but it's cold and you want something hot in your belly, or you committed to bringing a side dish to that potluck you really don't want to attend.
So here's a recipe for you: ARMENIAN PILAF. The recipe is super easy, quick, and most importantly it's delicious. I cut the recipe out of a magazine eons ago; I can't remember which one now, but I do recall the introduction stating it was from a chef who served it at holiday parties as a side dish. The recipe says it will serve 12, and it will indeed. This makes a lot of rice pilaf. Like, a lot. I halve the recipe, serve it as a main course, and still have a lot of pilaf left over. A lot.
But the leftovers are one of the things I love about this pilaf. Do not fear the leftovers! This pilaf makes awesome fried rice (just saute some veggies, toss in the rice and heat through, and maybe add some chopped fried egg). To make a light and easy soup, saute some chopped onion in olive oil. When it starts getting translucent add some chopped or sliced zucchini (or other vegetable(s) of your choice). When the zucchini is almost tender, add a ladleful of the pilaf and heat through. Top with grated parmesan if you like, or to make the soup more substantial throw in some shredded rotisserie chicken.
Here's the recipe. Enjoy!
1/3 cup broken pieces egg vermicelli*
1.5 oz (3 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice
4.5 cups low-sodium chicken stock**
2.25 tsp coarse sale
Toast pasta in a medium saucepan over medium heat until deep golden brown, about 4 minutes***. Add butter and let melt. Add rice, and stir in stock and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer, covered, until liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender, about 16 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
*If you don't have vermicelli, broken pieces of spaghetti work just fine.
**I use vegetable stock, and for this recipe I particularly like Pacific brand. It's a very hearty stock -- a deep orange color -- and it gives a lot of flavor to the pilaf. But any clear chicken or vegetable stock will work.
***Keep an eye on the pasta as it browns. It can go from golden to burnt very quickly.