Sides

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Holly’s Vermicelli Pilaf

Adapted from Grill Power: Second Edition

This menu pays tribute to the ingenuity of Armenian cooks who usually serve sweet and savory dishes with a pilaf made of rice or bulgur wheat. At Aram’s Armenian Café, in Petaluma, CA (my hometown!), the daily meat or poultry special was always accompanied by such a delicious rice and vermicelli pilaf, that I recreated it for my book, Grill Power. Aram’s Café is now closed, but this recipe pays tribute to the wonderful meals that I had there for many years. It goes well with meat or vegetable dishes from just about any cuisine. I recently served it in Honolulu at a demo for my book Grill Power: Second Edition  at a local culinary store. My Asian customers loved it and thought it was a new version of fried rice!

This recipe can be made up to 2 days in advance. It freezes well stored in zippered freezer bags for up to 2 months.

Makes 4 (1 cup) servings

Notes: Double or triple this recipe for a crowd. But remember to use a 6 or 8 quart pot for a larger quantity recipe. If you have never made rice in the microwave, try the version of this recipe below. It is very easy to make and you don’t have to watch the pot!

4 oz. (1/4 package) vermicelli noodles broken into 1” or 2” pieces
3 tablespoons salted butter
3 cups very hot tap water or heated, canned non-fat chicken broth
1-1/2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup dried cranberries, currants, or yellow raisins (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)

Stovetop Method:
1. Melt butter in a 3-quart pot, covered for 2 minutes over low heat.
2. Stir in the vermicelli coating all surfaces with butter. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until noodles begin to brown, about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the rice cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat an additional 3 minutes until rice becomes well coated with the fat and slightly transparent.
4. Stir in the hot water or chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover and immediately reduce heat low. Cook 20 minutes. Remove the cover briefly to stir in the optional dried cranberries, currants, or raisins. If not adding dried fruit, do not remove cover. Let stand covered 10 minutes on a trivet on the counter. Remove cover, fluff with a fork, and sprinkle with optional chopped parsley or cilantro before serving.

Microwave Method:
1. Melt butter in a 3-quart microwavable casserole, covered for 2 minutes on high (100% power).
2. Stir in the vermicelli coating all surfaces with butter. Microwave covered for 5-6 minutes on high (100% power), or until noodles begin to brown.
3. Stir in the rice and microwave covered 3 minutes on high (100% power).
4. Stir in the hot water or chicken broth and microwave covered 4 minutes on high (100% power). Do not remove the cover. Microwave an additional 15 minutes on low (30% power). Remove the cover briefly to stir in the optional dried cranberries, currants, or raisins. If not adding dried fruit, do not remove cover. Let stand covered 10 minutes on a trivet on the counter. Remove cover, fluff with a fork, and sprinkle with optional chopped parsley or cilantro before serving.