|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 Servings|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 12g||15%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||36%|
|Total Carbohydrate 60g||22%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||9%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
If you grew up in the United States, chances are you have seen those boxes of Rice-a-Roni with the combination of rice and noodles. It came with a mysterious sauce/flavor packet, was easy to make and totally irresistible. And even those mothers who were not big fans of box mixes often found themselves giving in to childhood requests for this side dish and serving it with some baked or broiled chicken. Well, this American classic is really a Middle Eastern standard. Mot commonly referred to as Lebanese rice, it's probably the most common rice side dish throughout the Middle East.
While the typical side dish does not usually combine two different kinds of starches, the hallmark of this rice dish is, in fact, the toasted broken bits of vermicelli pasta. To toast it, some use olive oil, others use butter or clarified butter (ghee) but, either way, it's very important to get the pasta crispy but not burned. It's a fine line and you need to watch your noodles carefully. But the deeper the color, the nuttier the flavor. And when the dish is done, some of the harder, more brown bits at the bottom of the pot are considered the cook's treat.
The biggest question when it comes to this recipe is whether or not to soak the rice ahead of time. Purists will tell you that soaking it is a must and that you also need to massage the grains of rice between your fingers to get some of the starch off and ensure a fluffier finished product. Whether or not you actually go to these lengths is up to you but be assured that you will get a delicious side dish either way.
In any event, once done the combination of fluffy rice and crispy pasta provides a perfect canvas to add some additional flavors. Herbs like chopped parsley add a nice freshness and toasted pine nuts add a great crunch. Just serve alongside your favorite protein for a meal everyone will love.
Add the unsalted butter and the vermicelli to a large saute pan or pot that has a tight fitting lid. Brown the noodles on medium high heat, stirring often, and be careful not to burn them.
Once the noodles are browned, add the rice and water to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat down to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
Fluff with a fork, season with salt and pepper and add in chopped parsley or toasted nuts, if using. Serve as a side dish to fish, chicken or beef.