Sometimes you come across a side dish that’s so tasty and fantastic that you just have to figure out how to make it for yourself. When the Chef’s bar at my office cafe offered a tasty cilantro rice, one of my coworkers had to find out the recipe. The chef was kind enough to pass on the basics: make a cilantro pesto and mix it up with some rice. That’s not overly specific, but it was enough to get me started.
I intended to make this dish to accompany the grilled chicken teriyaki I cooked up for my family dinner at the Tahoe cabin last weekend, but I wasn’t sure kids if dig cilantro. To be honest, I’m not cilantro’s biggest fan- I’m one of those people who thinks it tastes exactly like a lovely bar of soap. But somehow, creating a pesto sauce with cilantro and pine nuts doesn’t give me the same taste experience and I love the result. The best part about this recipe is that you can actually make both versions to solve any palate: mix the pesto into a portion of the rice and serve the other part plain with a sprinkle of pine nuts. EASY.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup brown rice (or white rice, if you like)
- 2 cups water (or chicken broth)
- 1 bunch of cilantro leaves (wash the bunch and pat dry, then remove and discard the stems by pulling the fragrant leaves off by hand)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, pressed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- squeeze of lime
- Heat the tablespoon of oil on medium in your saucepan. Add cup of rice and pan-toast for a minute or two. Add water (or broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until all water is evaporated and rice is cooked.
- While rice is cooking, combine cilantro, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely blended.
- Stir in salt and lime, then drizzle in olive oil and pulse a few more times to finish off the pesto.
- Add pesto to rice and coat thoroughly. Serve while warm.
- If you like, another 1/4 cup of pine nuts mixed into the rice is an excellent addition!
This cilantro pesto rice is super fragrant and tasty, without being overpowering. I love serving it alongside chicken or fish, but it’s also a great Chipotle rice dupe and works awesome in burritos or rice bowls!