Grains, are so very versatile because you can add almost anything to them and create a wonderful meal. Rice, whether it’s brown, white, black or red, can be transformed into a marvelous dish with just a few other pantry ingredients. Tapenade, that slightly salty blended olive mix, that either comes already prepared in a jar, or you can whirl up yourself right at home, makes a great condiment to add to rice. I just so happen to adore olive tapenade spooned on top of a cracker or piece of bread, and I even enjoy it served warm over fish, but in rice? Aah, yes it’s delish.
Adding tapenade to rice perks up the grains, and turns ordinary into something special. A pinch of saffron threads also provides another note of flavor, but they’re not absolutely necessary. Baking rice might be something new to a few of you, and it’s actually easier than preparing it on the stove top, and it’s done in the same amount of time. I love to make it this way because the edges get slightly crispy, a delicious contrast to the softer center.
You can spoon the rice alongside a piece of grilled fish or chicken, and the leftovers are a quick reheat in the microwave for lunch. The aroma that comes off the pan after removing it from the oven is something splendid, and reminiscent of a great trip somewhere in the Mediterranean.
1 small onion, diced
1 1/4 cups white basmati rice
pinch of Saffron threads, optional
1/2 cup olive tapenade, any variety
salt & pepper
olive oil for pan
fresh cilantro leaves, optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse rice in a strainer under cold water, until it runs clear, set aside. Add saffron (if using) to 2 1/2 cups boiling water, set aside.
- In a 10-inch oven safe skillet, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and place over medium heat.
- Add onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, stir. Cook for 3 minutes. Add rice and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute to toast grains slightly.
- Pour hot water over rice mixture and stir. Add tapenade and stir to combine.
- Place skillet in oven and cook for 18 minutes. Remove and top with cilantro, if desired. Enjoy!