A few weeks ago, after passing his defense and going from Mr. Cake Pants to Dr. Cake Pants, the fiancé moved to California to start a new job. One of the biggest changes for both of us (in terms of practical matters, anyway) has been making the transition to meal planning and cooking for one. Since I’m finding myself busier than ever, I’m not terribly keen on the idea of making partial recipes and cooking more often, so I’ve been relying on dishes that I know will hold up well as leftovers, like this Mediterranean rice pilaf.
Also on the topic of the challenges of cooking for one: I’ve found that recipe testing for the blog can be a bit trickier with Dr. Cake Pants out in California. My willingness to persevere through multiple iterations of a recipe has decreased, given that I’m the only one consuming the beta versions. I’ve already had a spectacular amount of Baileys leprechaun chow that (tragically) went into the garbage when I realized that the liquid renders it unfit for consumption by the next day, as well as a colossal banana bread fail (although at least that was still edible). When I texted this photo to the fiancé, he replied, “Those look neat. What are they supposed to be?”
I rectified the leprechaun chow situation later in the week by making a small batch and testing it every thirty minutes to see how long it stayed fresh, but I’m still a little put off by the banana bread incident, so I’m holding off on round two for the time being. Thankfully, this Mediterranean rice pilaf turned out perfectly the first time I made it!
This rice pilaf is adapted from a recipe for stuffed peppers that I got from a Greek cookbook years ago. Every time I make them, I end up stealing extra bites of rice from the peppers while the oven preheats—there’s something about the crunch of slivered almonds that makes it so irresistible!—so I decided to make the rice into a dish all on its own. To change things up a bit, I tossed in some chickpeas and some extra seasonings (garlic, oregano, and parsley) and cooked the rice in broth for added flavor. As far as the leftovers potential of this Mediterranean rice pilaf, I can personally attest that it lasts up to six days in the fridge. I was, however, getting a bit bored by day four, so instead of pairing it with chicken, I topped it with a fried egg and was quite pleased with the results—it’s quite versatile in that regard! It also has a variety of ingredients believed to boost cardiovascular health, such as almonds, chickpeas, and tomatoes, so your heart will be as happy as your taste buds!
What are your favorite leftovers-friendly dishes? And have you had any recipe testing flops lately? Let’s hear about them…after all, everyone loves bloopers!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice, rinsed and drained
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes (including the liquid)
- 1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- dash of pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and rained
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- crumbled feta (optional)
- chopped parsley (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 7-9 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring to prevent it from sticking.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes (including the liquid), broth, basil, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Turn off the stove. Add the chickpeas to the stockpot, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice and stir in the slivered almonds. Optional: top with feta and parsley.
- Serves 6 as a side dish.
- If you know you will have leftovers, you may want to sprinkle the slivered almonds on top of individual portions rather than stirring them into the rice. Nuts lose their crunch when left to sit in dishes overnight.
Looks like a great recipe, and I will try it very soon. Also looking forward to your banana recipe-I recently baked several loaves for our company from Germany who did not know banana bread and loved it as a breakfast food!
Let me know what you think if you do! I’ll keep working on that banana bread…it’s a tropical version 🙂
chef mimi says
Looks wonderful. Sorry about the banana bread…
Thanks, Mimi! At least the banana bread still tasted good, even if it didn’t look good 😉
Patty K-P says
One of my all time favorites! Love your rendition with almonds and chickpeas 🙂 Are you headed over here soon?
Thanks, Patty! After I finish up my dissertation, yes – I’ll be headed back to the Bay Area 🙂
David | Spiced says
Oh my gosh, that banana bread! I’ve been there, Mara. It’s the worst! I seem to have a real problem with lemon poppyseed anything. I’ve tried it in muffin form. Total fail. I gave myself some time and then tried it in bread form. Again, total fail. It’s proving to be my own personal Captain Hammer. 🙂 But this pilaf sounds amazing. It sounds like it not only makes good leftovers, but it might even be better in leftover form! Sign me up for this one…with extra feta please!
Testing recipes for baked goods can be so frustrating – I’m always so impressed with how many beautiful creations you come up with, so it’s good (for my ego and sanity) to know that you have your fail moments as well. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Lauren @ Free Your Fork says
This looks delicious, Mara! Those almonds look perfect in there – a little something crunchy and sweet.
That’s too funny about banana bread, that is one of my biggest recipe fails to date too! I still have the pictures somewhere!
I can only imagine how busy you are with long-distance wedding planning. Love the idea of adding the fried egg to spice up the leftovers, sometimes it’s really the protein that ends up wearing on me by week’s end
Thanks, Lauren! I’m glad that I’m not the only one with banana bread woes. I’ve got a good base recipe that I love, but when I start to experiment, sometimes things go awry. And yes – wedding planning is definitely overwhelming! That’s part of why I haven’t been posting as often…that, and teaching and working on a dissertation 😉 I think we all need a vacation, yes?
Sounds wonderful – pinned and shared.
I’m so glad this caught your eye, and thank you for sharing! 🙂
This looks look simple but delicious. I love dishes that make versatile leftovers for the week!
Thanks, Hope! I hope you get a chance to try this!
Wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday!
Thanks! And thank you for hosting this week!
Paula from Her Life Is Love says
This looks amazing right now, and not just because I haven’t had breakfast yet. I love chickpeas and this looks like a nice dish that my toddler can eat, too. That’s important to me. Thank you for this recipe! #fiestafriday
I’m so glad this caught your eye! Let me know if you give it a try. Have a great weekend!
This sounds amazing! Thanks so much for linking up at Sunday Fitness & food, Pinned!
Thanks, Angela! I hope you get a chance to try it sometime 🙂
This is such a fun salad idea for the warmer outdoor season! I’d love to bring this delicious rice pilaf salad with me for a picnic!
Featuring this recipe at this week’s Sunday Fitness & Food! Congrats!!
I’m glad this caught your eye, and thanks so much for the feature! Let me know if you give it a try 🙂