Sometimes when we have leftovers for dinner, I like to make a more special or unusual side dish to make up for it. Sometimes I make bread, but last night, since I had a batch of chicken stock in the fridge, I decided to make rice pilaf.
If you're in the habit of eating rice pilaf from a box mix, I implore you to stop. You're not saving yourself any time and you're certainly not saving yourself any money, either. What you are doing is giving yourself a lot more chemicals and salt than are good for you, or for your taste buds. If you like rice pilaf, give this a try and see if you don't agree that this is better.
Easiest Rice Pilaf
1/4 C orzo pasta
1 C long-grain rice (basmati is very nice)
1+1/2 C chicken stock (if you're not going to make your own -- entirely understandable! -- I recommend Swanson's Natural Goodness)
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
First, rinse the rice. Measure out your rice into a medium-sized bowl, and rinse two or three times: fill up the bowl with cool water, agitate the rice to wash it, then carefully pour off the milky water, keeping the rice in the bowl. Repeat until the water is clean; pour off as much water as possible.
Put the olive oil, butter, and orzo in a medium-size saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is nicely browned. Add the rice to pan, and stir to coat it with the butter/oil mixture.
Add the chicken stock and stir. Increase the heat to high and allow the stock to come to the boil. Immediately cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Let the pot sit undisturbed for about 15 minutes. Check and see if all the liquid is absorbed; if some remains, cover and leave on the heat a few more minutes. Once all the liquid is absorbed, fluff with a fork, but keep covered in the pan until you're ready to serve it.
This is the simplest pilaf -- you can easily add things like sauteed vegetables (mushrooms are good) in at the beginning stage, when you're browning the orzo, if you'd like to dress it up a bit. This is a lot less complicated than risotto, but it still tastes really good.