Lebanese Rice Pilaf

Lebanese Rice Pilaf

Lebanese Rice Pilaf

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Lebanese Rice Pilaf is a wonderful side dish for any occasion.  Tender rice gets speckled with toasted vermicelli noodles and topped with toasted pine nuts or almonds for added flavour and crunch.  The toasted vermicelli brings the rice to life with its nutty flavour and chewy texture.  Using ghee in this recipe adds extra flavour and helps the vermicelli turn deep amber in colour.  Ghee is butter, in which the milk solids have been toasted and then removed by straining to leave behind a nutty-tasting butter that can be used for higher-heat cooking because the milk solids have been removed and therefore don’t burn.

What makes a rice dish a pilaf?  This definition seems to vary a little between sources but generally refers to rice that is seasoned by using stock/broth and sometimes meat and vegetables. In other definitions, the rice is sautéed in butter or oil before adding the stock or broth.  Today’s recipe includes the use of chicken broth to add extra flavour and also lightly sautés the rice with ghee-laden vermicelli.  The benefit of sautéing the rice is to coat the rice grains with fat to create a fluffier rice that does not stick together.  Rinsing the rice well with cool water to remove the excess starch also helps to ensure fluffy rice. 

Today’s Lebanese Rice Pilaf is easy and produces fluffy, flavourful rice every time, so there’s no excuse to eat boring rice. Enjoy!

Looking for more delicious side dishes?

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Creamy Caper Smashed Potatoes

Mushroom Herb Rice

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Lebanese Rice Pilaf

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
  • 3/4 cup vermicelli pasta
  • 2 cups long grain rice like basmati
  • 1 litre chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds

Instructions

  • Heat ghee in a large skillet. Add vermicelli and cook stirring frequently until a deep amber colour.
  • Rinse rice with cool water to remove the excess starch. Drain well and add to the pasta stirring to coat the rice grains in the fat.
  • Add chicken broth and salt. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff the rice and move it to a serving dish if desired. Garnish with parsley and toasted nuts.

Garlic Parmesan Monkey Buns

Garlic Parmesan Monkey Buns

Garlic Parmesan Monkey Buns

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Today’s Garlic Parmesan Monkey Buns are so good served warm and fresh with flecks of garlic and Parmesan cheese. They’re a little crispy around the bottom and each bite is buttery and delicious. That is why this is a small-batch recipe. Simply put, they are best enjoyed the day they are made, warm and fresh from the oven, and you don’t always need a dozen of them for one meal.

They are easy to mix by hand with no special equipment required. Six is the perfect number for a small family enjoying a bowl of soup, stew or chili. I like to say they are meal-specific and made to tear apart and dunk into a luscious tomato sauce or hearty stew rather than sliced and piled with lunch meat.

These Garlic Parmesan Monkey Buns do take a few hours, so plan accordingly. I like to initially mix a wet dough and allow it to rest to hydrate most of the flour. This will help with the first stages of kneading because the moisture has been absorbed by the flour. From here, the flour you knead into the dough can be readily absorbed.

The final dough should be tacky but not sticking to your fingers. The exact amount of flour will depend on your environment and measuring of the ingredients. Once the initial cup of flour has been kneaded into the dough, add flour by the teaspoon if needed until the dough is soft and a little tacky to the touch.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

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Garlic Parmesan Monkey Buns

Total Time 3 hours
Servings 6 Buns

Ingredients

.

    Buns

    • 1/2 cup 2% milk
    • 1 tsp granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
    • 1 cup bread flour
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
    • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

    Garlic Butter

    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
    • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

    Instructions

    • Warm the milk to 90 – 110°F.  Stir in the sugar and yeast and allow to bloom for 10 minutes.
    • To the milk add ¾ cup of the bread flour, melted butter,  salt, and garlic powder.  Stir to combine into a wet dough.  Cover and allow to hydrate for 15-20 minutes.
    • Spread the remaining ¼ cup of flour onto your work surface.  Scoop the dough onto the flour and sprinkle the top with flour as you start to knead.  Knead the dough, absorbing the flour gradually as you go until all the flour has been absorbed.  Knead for a total of 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and tacky to the touch.  If you require more flour, add it to your work surface a teaspoon at a time.
    • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover and allow to proof until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes depending on your environment.
    • Meanwhile, chop two cloves of garlic.  Add the parsley leaves to the garlic and finely mince together.  Set aside in a large bowl.
    • Once the dough has risen, scoop it out onto your work surface and knead gently two or three times to remove the air.  Divide dough evenly into six portions.
    • To the garlic and parsley add ¼ cup of butter that has been melted along with the Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.
    • Cut each dough portion into 6 equal pieces and add to the butter.  Toss gently to combine.
    • Using a non-stick muffin tin, place 6 dough pieces into each tin cup, nestling them gently as you go.  Top each with any remaining butter mixture.
    • Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until puffy, about 30-40 minutes.
       
    • Bake in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 20 minutes until golden.
    • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to a serving dish or cooling rack.

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    Braised Kale with Bacon

    Braised Kale with Bacon

    Braised Kale with Bacon

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    Braised Kale with Bacon served in a shallow white bowl resting on a wooden trivel and blue checkered kitchen towel.

    Bacon has its own food group for a reason, it makes people actually want to eat Kale, LOL! At least in my world it does, and autumn is the perfect season to enjoy plenty of robust braised greens. While this recipe has been made with kale, other greens like Swiss chard, beet greens or collards will work very well also. Braised Kale with Bacon is a great side dish with roasted meats, and if by chance you have any leftovers, it’s perfect to add to a frittata, baked pasta or simply topped with a runny egg. The latter being my personal favourite because I’m a firm believer that a runny egg makes the world a tastier place and the bacon is already included, so it’s a win-win scenario.

    Ingredients for Braised Kale with Bacon nestled in a shallow white tray.
    Sauteed onions in an off white dutch oven in preparation of Braised Kale with Bacon.

    Eating kale doesn’t have to mean you’re on a diet. The ratio of bacon and parmesan cheese in this recipe tips the healthy scale a little, but it’s also the reason it’s so tasty. Don’t be skimpy on the cheese my friends. Enjoy!

    Can’t eat kale, even with bacon? Here’s a few more veggie sides to choose from.

    Cranberry Almond Roasted Broccoli

    Garlicky Buttered Beans

    Honey Garlic Carrots and Parsnips

    Author:  Compelled to Cook

     

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    Braised Kale with Bacon

    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    Total Time 45 minutes
    Servings 6 1/2 cup servings

    Ingredients

    • 10 ounces kale about 6 ounces trimmed
    • 4 ounces bacon, 3-4 slices, diced
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
    • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
    • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 1 cup vegetable broth
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 medium juice of 1/2 a lemon

    Instructions

    • Trim kale of ribs and stems and tear them into bite-size pieces.
    • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped bacon and cook until rendered and crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
    • Add enough olive oil to the remaining bacon fat to equal 2 tbsp (you may not need it).
    • Add sliced onions and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add sliced garlic and chili flakes and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes.
    • Toss in trimmed kale and salt and pepper and cook, stirring often until kale is starting to wilt 3-5 minutes.
    • Pour in broth and water, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring once or twice until kale is soft. Remove lid and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes until most of the liquid has cooked out.
    • Add parmesan cheese and bacon and toss to combine. Add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately.

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    Japanese Cabbage Salad

    Japanese Cabbage Salad

    Japanese Cabbage Salad

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    Japanese Cabbage Salad served in a square wooden bowl and garnished with sliced green onions.
    Shredded cabbage, green onions, ramen noodles and almonds on a wooden cutting board being prepaired for Japanese Cabbage Salad.

    Spring has sprung, and it’s time to start thinking about grilling, fresh berries and salads. Japanese Cabbage Salad is fresh, light and a little bit crunchy for the perfect picnic, side or lunch salad. The change of season brings about fresh and light recipe ideas for blogging but also a welcome change for everyday living. It’s the opportunity to jog outdoors, enjoy long walks and drive to and from work in daylight. These are important things in my world. What’s got you excited for spring?

    Japanese Cabbage Salad served in a square wooden bowl and garnished with sliced green onions.

    What I enjoy most about this salad is the almonds, they give a great crunchy texture to every bite. Using the chicken seasoning package from the noodles in the dressing is also genius. It provides a wonderful savoury and salty addition to the mound of cabbage. Japanese Cabbage Salad is great for picnics or potlucks because it holds up very well and there is no mayonnaise to cause concern if left to sit for a while. Have it as a meal by adding grilled or rotisserie chicken, it’s a great lunch.

    The recipe suggests letting the salad rest for 30-60 minutes to meld the flavours, but truthfully, I enjoy it just as much the next day after the cabbage has absorbed more of the dressing. It’s rather embarrassing how much of this salad I can eat in one sitting, stopping only because my gut aches from eating so much raw cabbage. I’m not sure that salads are usually what people can’t stop eating but this one hits all the right notes for me. Enjoy

    Author:  Compelled to Cook

     

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    Japanese Cabbage Salad served in a square wooden bowl and garnished with sliced green onions.
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    Japanese Cabbage Salad

    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Resting Time 30 minutes
    Total Time 50 minutes
    Servings 6 cups

    Ingredients

    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 3 tbsp white vinegar
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1 pkg chicken ramen noodle seasoning
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • to taste pepper
    • 5 cups finely shredded cabbage, lightly packed about 1 pound
    • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
    • 3 each green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 pkg instant chicken ramen noodles

    Instructions

    • Whisk together the first six ingredients and set aside.
    • In a large bowl toss together shredded cabbage, almonds and green onion. Add dressing and toss to coat evenly. Break apart ramen noodles into small pieces with your hands and toss with salad. Cover salad and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to meld flavours and soften the noodles slightly. The salad can be made up to 2 hours in advance, tossing lightly just before serving.

    Notes

    -Slivered almonds are preferred as they offer the best crunch and size.  To toast the almonds preheat the oven to 350°F.  Arrange almonds in a single layer in a pie plate or other shallow baking tray.  Toast for 8-10 minutes until just starting to turn golden. 
    -Easily make this salad into lunch by topping with cooked chicken.

    Potato and Mushroom Gratin

    Potato and Mushroom Gratin

    Potato and Mushroom Gratin

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    Sliced mushrooms, gruyere cheese and potatoes in a basket are being prepped for Potato and Mushroom Gratin.

    With Easter just around the corner, you’ll want to be dinner ready for family and friends. Hopefully, with some luck, the Covid-19 gathering restrictions will ease in my area and a modest gathering can take place. I do miss my family and friends, and I miss cooking for them. It’s the best part of any gathering, in my opinion. You’re gonna love this easy and delicious Potato and Mushroom Gratin. It feeds 8 people, it’s easy to assemble and bakes up golden and creamy every time. There’s no messing around with cooking a white sauce, there’s no boilovers and no pre-cooking potatoes. It’s a no-fuss casserole, loaded with earthy mushrooms and Gruyere cheese, and has become my favourite to serve with ham. It’s also fantastic served with roast chicken, pork or grilled steak.

    Sauteed mushroom in a stainless steel skillet that have been cooked for Potato and Mushroom Gratin.
    A prepped and layered Potato and Mushroom Gratin in a red casserole dish ready for the oven.

    What makes this potato casserole a winner in my books is the simplicity of the sauce. The mixture of cream and sour cream makes it extra creamy and the sour cream gives a little tang. The sauce is whisked together cold and poured over the potato slices. I find there’s no need to be fussy with the potato arrangement either. Simply toss the slices into the casserole dish and spread them around evenly instead of trying to layer them ever so carefully. If you don’t have a mandolin for thinly slicing the potatoes, that’s no problem, simply slice as thin as you can by hand and cook for the longest time suggested in the recipe. Remember, dinner doesn’t need to be fussy. This simple casserole is not only delicious, but it also feeds a small crowd and is worthy of your family gathering. Enjoy!

    Potato and Mushroom Gratin baked golden in a red casserole dish and garnished with chopped green onions.

    Author:  Compelled to Cook

     

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    Potato and Mushroom Gratin baked golden in a red casserole dish and garnished with chopped green onions.
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    Potato and Mushroom Gratin

    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
    Resting Time 10 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
    Servings 8 people

    Ingredients

    • 3-4 tbsp unsalted butter plus more for dish
    • 16 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced see note
    • 1 small onion, thinly slice
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 cup sour cream, full fat
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • pinch nutmeg
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes see note
    • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 375°F and butter a large 3-quart casserole dish.
    • Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until starting to foam. Add mushroom and cook until lightly browned and the moisture has evaporated. Add minced garlic and continue to cook, stirring often for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a clean bowl.
    • Melt another 1-2 tbsp of butter over medium heat and add sliced onions. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes until starting to soften.
    • While mushrooms and onions are cooking, whisk together cream, sour cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. In a separate bowl whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add to the sour cream mixture and whisk until incorporated. Grate the cheese and set it aside.
    • Peel and thinly slice the potatoes and dab dry with a paper towel. Spread half of the potato slices evenly in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Scatter half of the sauteed mushrooms and onions over the potatoes. Top evenly with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining potatoes, mushrooms and cheese.
    • Pour the cream mixture evenly over the potatoes. Give the pan a gentle shake to help flatten everything out. Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes (this will depend on how thin you've sliced the potatoes) Start checking at 45 minutes. The potatoes should be "just" tender in the center. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the top is golden and the potatoes are cooked through.
    • Remove from oven, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or sliced green onions if desired.

    Notes

    -The cooking of the mushrooms and onions, along with the mixing of the sauce can be done several hours and up to one day in advance. So all you have left to do is slice the potatoes, assemble and bake the casserole.
    -Russet potatoes work well for this recipe, however, I've also used red potatoes with equally good results.
    -The covered cooking time will vary slightly depending on how thin you've sliced the potatoes.  I find cutting them by hand instead of using a mandolin requires closer to 60 minutes covered.
    -I like using a mix of cremini and white mushrooms for this recipe but either/or will work well.