Friday, April 24, 2009

Onion Pepper Confetti Basmati Pilaf

Today, I was out in my driveway cleaning up a new (used) dresser with some Murphy Oil Soap, and my neighbor friend stopped by with some vino!  Yay!

We got a chance to visit, I asked her if she'd eaten--she said no--so I said, "Stay for dinner!"  

I have a giant bag (10 lbs., I think it was originally) of Basmati rice from the Indian grocery store, purchased on 7/14/07.  I know that because I dated the bag, to track how long it takes to eat it all (just for fun).  When I finish it some day (a long time from now?), I think I'll have a party.  

Anyway, what would I make for dinner?  I had one red and one orange pepper in the to shrivel up (whoops, didn't cut up for hummus soon enough!) this is what I was able to come up with:  Onion Pepper Confetti Basmati Pilaf, in my large stock pot. 

The simple ingredients:
  • two peppers (I like red, orange or yellow)
  • one medium onion
  • a couple Tbsps. Olive Oil or Butter
  • 2/3 box of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I like Pacific Foods or Trader Joe's)
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • water
  • parsley flakes
  • 1-1/2 tsp. celery salt

Invite friends into kitchen and talk with them.  Simultaneously:  chop peppers and onions. Share stories about bad dates (optional).  Saute onions and peppers in oil or butter.  When onions are clear, add the broth, rice, parsley and celery salt.  Add maybe about a cup of water.  Bring to boil.  Simmer on low until rice is cooked.  Taste the broth.  If it is bland, add a little more celery salt.  

Stir the rice occasionally.  If all the water cooks off before the rice is fully cooked, add some more.  (I'm sorry I don't measure exactly.  You can do it.  Be courageous.)

This makes a large pot that you can keep in the fridge for the next couple days.  I served with a fresh salad with chopped tomatoes and balsamic vinegrette, and some vino.  Then an orange for dessert?


Part of the wonderful conversation I had with this friend of mine was about how we remember our mid-western grandmothers made very simple foods with very few ingredients.  No MSG, modified food starch, high-fructose corn syrup, or anything.  Just 3 or 4 ingredients!  

We also were talking about how many of our mothers and grandmothers never used recipes, they just cooked "by ear."  Whatever you've got on hand, put something together, and make it work. can BE CREATIVE.  (I just love it when people tell me that).

Many of us are feeling a little stressed about money these days, but I think if we get psyched about being creative cooks, and enjoying the experimentation that we can come up with new recipes and even enjoy the journey of trying them out.  

This recipe cost:

2 peppers:  $2 from a 6-pack from Costco ($6)
3 cups Basmati:  maybe $0.72 from my $5 10-lb bag?
1 onion: maybe $0.37 from my 3-lb yellow onion bag that cost $2.49
1 box low-sodium chicken broth (70mg per cup): $2.29 at Trader Joe's
parsley flakes: 1 Tbsp from a package, maybe $0.12's worth?
celery salt: maybe $0.15's worth?

I didn't calculate the exact numbers...but isn't it about $6 for several days worth?  You can serve this as a main dish, or just a fancy side.  


So you might want to try it.  I can't upload photos for the time being, so you'll have to use your imagination (I'll try to add them later).  But I promise you will enjoy this.  It tastes even better if you share, so invite that neighbor or friend over.  Enjoy!

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