I love pilafs: Ordinary rice plus a few ingredients equals something special.
Pilafs can cook in the oven, clearing stove space, and can usually sit awhile without diminishing in quality. By tweaking the additions, you can make them marry well with whatever else you're serving.
Chickpeas increase the nutrient value of this version. I've chosen basmati rice for its aromatic qualities, but long-grain rice can be substituted.
For a vegetarian version, use water instead of chicken broth, add at least 1/4 teaspoon salt and double the amount of lemon juice.
The flavors of this pilaf pair well with grilled or broiled chicken, lamb or pork.
> Rice Pilaf With Chickpeas and Lemon
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Maui, cut into 1/4 -inch dice (1 cup)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup raw basmati rice
1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas (if canned, use a no-salt-added brand)
2 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth, preferably warmed
Finely grated zest and juice from 1 lemon (1 teaspoon zest, 2 tablespoons of juice)
Leaves from 1/4 bunch parsley, finely chopped ( 1/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the oil in a 3-quart ovenproof pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt and pepper to taste; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring, until the onion is softened but not browned. Add the rice, chickpeas and broth; stir to incorporate. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and transfer to the oven.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
Transfer the rice to a large bowl; mix in the lemon zest and juice and 3 tablespoons of the parsley. Taste, and adjust the seasonings as needed. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve.