Although the weather has returned to cooler temperatures, we will hopefully still have many more BBQ and picnic days ahead of us. Both of these dishes are lovely to have either warm or cold and are ideal if you have guests coming over as easy but very flavoursome side-dishes.
The first is a pesto flavoured rice. It really does make a different to make your own pesto rather than using shop-bought. You make the pesto as follows:
50g fresh basil leaves
1 chopped clove garlic
1 tbsp pinenuts
6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
25g freshly grated parmesan
This is so simple. Simply put the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.
Then blizt with a handheld processor before stiring in the parmesan.
Measure 225ml arborio rice in a measuring jug and then mix in a quarter of the sauce and then pour into a frying pan.
Pour in 450ml boiling chicken stock (you can use vegetable stock if making this for vegetarians or you prefer the taste but I prefer the chicken stock) and a tsp salt and put over a high heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling put a lid on the pan, reduce it to a low heat and simmer for exactly 20 minutes.
As soon as it is cooked tip it into a bowl and stir in 2 tbsp olive oil, the juice of one lemon and the rest of the pesto.
Add a few chopped spring onions and a handful of basil leaves and stir through the rice. Season well. If you are wanting to add some meat you can add some fried pancetta at this stage. Finally top with some shaved parmesan (use a vegetable peeler on the cheese to get the shavings).
This can be served warm or allowed to cool and served at room temperature.
Another delicious rice dish uses roasted pinenuts to really add flavour to the dish:
Start by frying 50g pinenuts in 2 tbsps oil until lightly toasted.
Once they have browned (will only take a minute or so) add 140g long grain rice and stir it around in the oil so all the grains are coated in the oil.
Add 250g hot chicken or vegetable stock and 100g white wine (if you want to leave out the wine just use more stock). Add two chopped cloves of garlic and bring everything to the boil and then simmer for 10-12 minutes until the rice is tender.
Turn off the heat and allow to cool a little. Meanwhile mix in a bowl a bunch spring onions finely chopped, about 20 halved cherry tomatoes, 150g grated mozzerella, 140g gorgonzola and some chopped parsley and basil leaves.
Add the slightly cooled rice and pinenuts, season well and stir everything together.
This is lovely on its own but also works very well stuffed into peppers, large tomatoes or large mushrooms and then either wrapped in foil and cooked on the BBQ or put into a roasting tray and cooked at 180 degrees C for about 15-25 minutes depending on the size of the vegetables (peppers take the longest of the three).
If you want to do some more stuffed vegetables but not only with rice then you can also use a mixture of vegetables (baby courgettes cut into strips, cherry tomatoes, slices of red onions, halved black olives, handful of basil etc.) tossed together with some feta cheese and then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and seasoned. Use as above to stuff peppers, mushrooms or tomatoes and bake or BBQ. Great alternatives for any vegetarians at a BBQ.
So some lovely dishes that can be used to accompany so many different meals or as vegetarian alternatives. Very versatile and loved by young and old!