Side Dishes – Rice and Orzo Pilaf & Baked Caprese

Brown Rice and Onion PilafThis week is a pot luck challenge for
HeartCooking Clubs

So I have decided to make a few side dishes as my main dishes were already planned and it is far easier to add a few sides than change the entire menu plan.

Some favorite side dishes or a quick or planned dinner can include just about anything and while I usually have a salad it isn’t always in the form of a “salad” but rather a crusty Caprese bruschetta from Giada’s recipe stash…I did grill the bread on one side instead of baking and after topping the toasted side I placed the untoasted side on a lower temperature on the grill to crisp it up a bit and to melt the cheese.

For Jacques’ recipe I cut the recipe in half and add 1/2 cup orzo so if you choose you make 1/2 have the recipe adjust the other seasonings and broth as well.

Brown Rice and Onion Pilaf

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
¾ pound onions (3 to 4 onions), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
2 cups brown rice (about 1 pound)
5 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat butter and oil in a large sturdy saucepan. When hot add the onions and saute over medium-to-high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the herbes de Provence and rice and mix well to combine. Add water, salt and pepper and bring mixture to a boil, stirring so it does not stick.
When boiling, reduce the heat and cook, covered, over very low heat for about 40 minutes, until rice is tender, a little chewy and most of the moisture has been absorbed. Check rice near end of cooking time; it may take a little longer than 40 minutes to absorb all the water and cook through. Serve with sweet and sour curried chicken.


Baked Caprese Salad
1 loaf baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 30 to 36 slices)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 1/4 pounds fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, stemmed

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Arrange the sliced baguette bread on a baking sheet. Brush with some of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Top each slice of bread with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top each slice of tomato with a slice of mozzarella and sprinkle with salt. Return the baking sheet to the oven until the cheese and tomato are warmed, about 5 minutes.

Arrange the toasts on a serving platter. Top each toast with a basil leaf. Using the brush, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.