Some people make fluffy, puffy, splendiferously perfect rice. I don't seem to have the gene for it. Whenever I attempt stove-top rice, I underboil, overflow the pot, or just, somehow, end up with very blah rice. My life changed forever when I bought my first rice cooker, a $19 model I found at an Asian grocery store. Since then, I've upgraded several times; my current cooker, a three-cup Microcom, makes the best rice (brown, white, jasmine, basmati, whatever you feed it), and it sings a little song when the rice is cooked. I've branched out a bit, too, and used the rice cooker to make quinoa, barley and oatmeal. This recipe for brown rice and almond pilaf, made in the rice cooker, combines typically bland brown rice with sweet caramelized onions, garlic, and toasted almonds. The rice on the bottom of the cooker develops a bit of a brown crust which, when mixed back into the rice, gives the texture of a paella. If you have a richly-flavored vegetable broth in the pantry, swap that for chicken broth to make this a vegan side dish.
Brown rice and almond pilaf recipe
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cup brown rice
2-1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken broth
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Kosher salt, if needed
Large pinch of fresh black pepper
Place the onions and olive oil in a small, nonstick frying pan over very low heat. Cook, shaking the pan or stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, until the onions are quite soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the rice cooker, place the brown rice, and fill the cooker with chicken broth to the one-cup mark for brown rice (or add 2-1/2 cups of broth if there's no marking on your rice cooker). Stir in the onions and garlic, and turn the cooker on.
While the rice is cooking, toast the almonds in a dry frying pan until they start to brown. Remove the pan from heat, and set aside.
When the rice is cooked, stir in the toasted almonds. Taste, and season with salt (if needed) and black pepper. Close the rice cooker and let the pilaf sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Black bean and brown rice burrito
Vegetable fried rice
Lentils and brown rice
Slow cooker lentil and brown rice soup with preserved lemons and garlic sausage
Chicken or turkey fried rice
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Indian lemon brown rice, from Lisa's Kitchen
Creamy brown rice, broccoli and apple salad, from Poor Girl Eats Well
Easy brown rice casserole with turkey Italian sausage and green pepper, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Brown rice salad with cumin and lime vinaigrette, from Pinch My Salt
Mushroom and brown rice casserole, from Annie's Eats
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