A play on Pasta Primavera, Basmati Rice Primavera celebrates herbs and vegetables from early- to mid-spring onward. Besides being healthier and lighter than its pasta cousin, this rice variation is as flexible and simple as you wish — either as a side dish or a main course, perhaps with an added protein (salmon, chicken, tofu, etc.)
Feel free to use my recipe below as a guide and then add or subtract as you wish. You can also make this seasonally to reflect summer (think sweet peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini) and fall vegetables (think sautéed red onion, squash, and fennel bulb).
Arliano Update (Aggiornamento Arliano):
“Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.” It’s been raining nearly straight for two weeks, and we have another week to go according to le previsioni (the forecasts). Our poor garden is drowning. Thankfully we are not experiencing the massive river floods and mudslides in other parts of Italy. Say a prayer for them, won’t you?
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- 1 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice. IMPORTANT: Soak and rinse this rice at least three times over a period of a couple of hours to ensure fluffy, not sticky, rice
- 5 – 7 asparagus stems, woody ends cut and discarded
- A big handful of green beans, de-stemmed
- 3 – 5 scallions or spring onions
- 1 cup artichoke hearts cut into bite sized pieces (frozen is fine, just bring them to room temperature)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas (keep them frozen until ready to use)
- 1 medium carrot, cleaned, then grated
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padana cheese
- 5 – 7 basil leaves, finely chopped
- Several stems of parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
- Several stems of mint, leaves only, finely chopped
- 1 – 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to toss the artichoke hearts in to avoid browning (optional)
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- In cold water, soak and rinse the basmati rice at least three times over a period of a couple of hours to ensure fluffy, not sticky, rice (you want to remove as much as the starch as possible). Cook the rice according to the package instructions and once done cooking, set it aside with the lid on. Alternatively, despite any amount of basmati rice that I cook, I add enough water to cover the rice by 1/2-inch (1 cm). I then bring the rice and water to a boil, reduce it to a very low simmer, and cover the pot with a lid. Mine usually takes 12-15 minutes. Leave the lid on after it cooks until you are ready to use it
- Bring a 2-quart pot of water to a boil and blanche the asparagus and green beans with 1 teaspoon of salt for six minutes. In the very last minute, add the frozen peas. Drain and pat dry. Cut the asparagus and green beans into bite sized pieces and place them and the peas into a very large mixing bowl
- Chop the artichoke hearts into bite sized pieces, then finely chop the scallions or spring onions including the light green parts and place them in bowl with asparagus and beans. Do the same with any herbs you are using along with the minced garlic and finely grated cheese and carrot. Mix all these ingredients well, but gently
- Fluff the rice with a fork and add it to the mixing bowl with the herbs and vegetables. Mix thoroughly, but gently. Mix in 2 tablespoons of melted butter to dress the rice. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Serve warm or room temperature