Meet my new favorite summer meal. I realize I throw the word “favorite” around a lot, but I really mean it each time I use it. This meal is healthy, quick and easy, customizable, and it tastes great. With all of those positives, is it any wonder I just named it a new favorite?
This dish is really a glorified rice pilaf. Take a normal rice pilaf, add some fresh summer vegetables, some leftover cooked chicken, and cheese (anything is better with cheese!), and you have a delicious summer dinner. I used zucchini and carrots from my CSA bag last week, but you could easily substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand. Mike loved this meal and the leftovers, heated up with some extra chicken broth, are wonderful as well. Add this to your menu plan this week and let me know what you think!
Cheesy Vegetable Rice Pilaf
Yield: Serves 4
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 small zucchini, chopped
1 carrot, cut into short matchsticks
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 Tbsp lemon zest, plus the juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2-3 handfuls of spinach, chopped
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped cooked chicken, optional
Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook until nutty and deep golden-brown.
Add the olive oil, zucchini, carrot, shallots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Cover and cook to sweat the vegetables a bit, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, rice, lemon zest, rosemary and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat and simmer until the rice is just tender, 16-18 minutes. Fold in the spinach and chicken (if using), then stir in the lemon juice and cheese. Serve immediately.
adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine