I often find myself looking for side dishes that can accompany main courses without overpowering them. This is a recipe that does just that.
Rice and noodles combined with toasted pistachios, leeks, and zucchini is one of my favorite year-round side dishes. It also is a two-in-one dish since the veggies are already in the rice. And it is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, with lots of green peeking through the rice and noodles.
Look for long-grain rice for this recipe. It has slender grains that stay separate and fluffy after cooking, which works well for side dishes or as a bed for sauces. Long-grain rice is fairly bland, so any flavorings added to it mingle nicely. There are other exotic long-grain rice varieties like basmati or jasmine rice, but they are more aromatic and have a nutty flavor. I prefer plain old American long-grain rice for this recipe.
Simple egg noodles work best for this recipe because they cook up in the same amount of time as the rice, arriving at a point where they’re soft but not mushy while maintaining their distinctive flavors. Look for fine egg noodles for this recipe.
Through years of rice-making, I have found that sautéing the rice in oil for a few minutes until the kernels just become light brown adds additional richness. In this recipe, we also sauté the noodles to add extra texture and flavor. Sautéed leeks and zucchini along with toasted pistachios add a delightful crunch.
Pistachio and Vegetable Herbed Rice and Noodles
- 1/4 cup pistachios
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice
- 1 1/4 cups fine egg noodles
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium leek, finely chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 cup petit pois, defrosted
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast pistachios in oven for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reserve.
In a medium saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of the oil on medium heat. Sauté the rice and egg noodles for about 3 minutes or until evenly coated and very lightly browned. Add the broth, salt, and pepper and increase heat to medium-high heat. Stir with a fork. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer 15 to 18 minutes, or until cooked through and the liquid has evaporated.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet heat the butter and remaining oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes or until soft. Add zucchini and continue sauteing for about 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked but slightly crisp. Season with salt and pepper.
When rice and noodles are cooked, add all vegetables, pistachios, 2 tablespoons parsley, and the mint. Toss with a fork, taste for seasoning, and garnish with remaining tablespoon of parsley. Serve immediately.
If you can find toasted pistachios, skip the first step.
To make this a vegetarian main course add sautéed tofu pieces and use vegetable stock.
This may be prepared up to 2 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Reheat carefully in top part of double boiler above hot water over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Make this into a cold salad the next day by adding some vinaigrette to the leftover portion. Cold shrimp or chicken pieces would be a nice addition.
Lemon zest adds an extra flavor component.
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at SeriouslySimple.com. Copyright 2021 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.