Figuring out side dishes is often the hardest part of menu planning for me. The entree is the first idea to pop into my head- I usually feel confident and excited about the starring course. However, coming up with companion dishes can be a challenge. You want to choose something that contrasts but also compliments- bonus points if it's delish and attractive! This pilaf dish is my new “one size fits all” side. It’s a crowd pleaser that pairs well with almost anything! Recently, I discovered Banza pasta and instantly became a big fan! I’m generally not fond of “healthy” pasta- the texture and flavor of most brands seem off- but I looooove Banza’s protein packed chickpea noodles. The rice that I use in this recipe is absolutely delicious, but IMO it’s more similar in texture to orzo than rice (it’s softer and less chewy). If you can’t find Banza at your grocery store, you can sub regular or whole wheat orzo. I know they carry Banza at Whole Foods, but the store I mainly shop at hasn’t hopped on the band wagon just yet. I hope they do soon! I really love the Banza products- and so do my meat picky kids! It’s a great way to get extra protein in their bellies without trying to cram a steak down their throats. This tasty pilaf has become a side dish staple in our cocina- I hope that you try it soon! You’ll find yourself serving it over and over again.
prep time: 10 min. cook time: 10 min. serves: 4-6
8 oz Banza rice (or orzo pasta)
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 scallions, light and white green parts only, sliced
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup chopped basil, plus extra for serving
Bring a wide, heavy pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Banza rice or orzo and cook until al dente according to package directions (if using Banza, there will be some foam- it’s ok). Strain the rice and thoroughly wipe out the pot. Set the rice aside and return the pot to the heat. Add the butter and oil to the pot and heat until the butter is lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and pine nuts and cook stirring frequently until the first few nuts start to brown- be careful, they burn fast! Remove the sauce from the heat and add in the rice (or orzo), Parmesan, basil, lemon zest, salt, and pepper to taste. Combine the mixture gently with a spoon, breaking up the rice or orzo of it’s sticky. Transfer the pilaf to a serving dish and garnish with more basil and Parmesan. Serve warm.