Rice-a-Roni, a San Francisco Treat! You know the jingle, it began airing on TVs across the country in the late 1950's and may still be going to this day. It promoted an easy rice side dish for families who needed something fast and easy to put on the table. I grew up eating this stuff, and I must say I really do like it. I remember standing next to my mom watching her brown the vermicelli or orzo in butter, then adding water and the little packet of seasonings then thinking it was going to be the most delicious meal ever. (I know, most kids don't get excited about rice a roni, but my love of food started very early.) What I don't like is the ingredient list, I just get a little weirded out by ingredients that are listed as "natural flavorings," what is that supposed to mean? Or ingredients that are too hard for me to pronounce, if it sounds like a chemical used in a science lab should we really be eating it?
With my picky nature towards un-natural ingredients I knew the only way I was going to experience one of my childhood treasts was to make my own. I got my inspiration from Rachel Ray's magazine yet again and used her idea of adding green beans with hopes that my four year old would think it was incredibly cool to have beans in rice. The results were successful all around. The rice turned out tasty, moist, and flavorful and most importantly B3, the pickiest of my children, devoured the rice.
Many of you know that I like recipes that can be easily changed. This rice recipe is exactly the perfect recipe to serve with a variety of flavors. Substitute different spices and herbs to achieve many different flavor profiles. Now that I have the stamp of approval from my picky eater, I will be making this rice often.
Green Bean Rice Pilaf
Recipe Source: A Cook's Quest, inspired by Rachel Ray
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 c La Moderna*, broken vermicelli, or orzo
2 3/4 c chicken broth
2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dry parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup french cut green beans (frozen or canned, well drained)
In a medium saucepan, heat the tsp of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the pasta of your choice and toast until light golden brown, stirring often. (If you are using the La Moderna brand of noodles, do not walk away because they brown very quickly.) Add the rice, chicken broth, and seasonings. (Make sure to taste at this point, whatever your broth and seasonings taste like is what your rice pilaf will taste like!) Bring everything to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook about 18 minutes. When the rice is firm, but tender add the green beans. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
Alternative Flavor Combinations
Saute onions and chopped carrot until soft. Toast pasta as directed above and use, 1-2 tsp chili powder, 1/2-1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp garlic powder along with the chicken broth
Substitue 1/2 c dry white wine for part of the chicken broth and use fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme
Substitute, beef broth, vegetable broth, or chicken boullion for the chicken broth
Add any vegetable your family enjoys. If it is a hard vegetable I would reccomend cooking it before adding the liquid to the pan.
Total Cost-Depends on what you add, but overall it is a very, very inexpensive dish. I would put my total cost for the whole dish at less than $1.00. My friend Shandra gave me the noodles to try, but she tells me they only cost about .50, I have no clue what I paid for the rice and the beans were cheap.