Autumn Noodles and Rice
I am always searching 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 almonds and red peppers is one of my favorite autumn side dishes.
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 that any flavorings added to it mingle nicely. There are other long grain rices that can be used as an alternative to the American version 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.
When I first began making rice I would combine the liquid, butter and rice and simmer the mixture until it was just cooked. 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.
Sauteed leeks and red peppers bring a taste of the fall season and the toasted almonds add a delightful crunch. People always ask me why I am so partial to leeks. The simple answer is they have a delicious taste effect when slowly sautéed and lightly caramelized. Remember when working with leeks to cut off the dark green tops (you can freeze them for making soup later) and to slice the light green and white part just down to the root. I run them under water in the sink to remove excess dirt. Then slice or chop them as desired.
Keep this recipe handy. When you find yourself asking “What am I going to serve with this entree?”, you will have your solution. Try Autumn Noodles and Rice with grilled or roasted lamb, chicken, beef or fish.
Help is on the Way:
- 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.
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1¼ cups long-grain white rice
- 1¼ cups fine egg noodles
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium leek, finely chopped
- 1 medium diced yellow or red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 3500F. Toast almonds in oven for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reserve.
- In a medium saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of the oil on medium heat. Saute 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 heat, cover, and simmer 15-18 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 peppers and continue sauteing for about 3-4 minutes or until cooked but slightly crisp.
- When rice and noodles are cooked, add vegetables, almonds, and parsley. Toss with a fork, taste for seasoning, and serve immediately.