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2000s Recipes + Menus

Rice and Noodle Pilaf with Toasted Almonds

  • Active time:15 min
  • Start to finish:50 min
November 2007
Since sautéing orzo in butter gives it a nutty taste and toasting almonds makes them buttery, it should be no surprise that the two ingredients are perfectly complementary in this pilaf.
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 (4-inch) strips lemon zest
  • 1 Turkish bay leaf or 1/2 California
  • 1 (3- to 4-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds with skins (2 1/2 ounces), toasted and coarsely chopped
  • Melt butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat and stir in orzo. Cook, stirring frequently, until orzo is golden, about 5 minutes. Add rice, stirring until coated with butter, then add zest, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then cover tightly and cook over low heat until water is absorbed and rice and orzo are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.
  • Fluff pilaf with a fork and spoon into a bowl, discarding zest, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Serve pilaf with almonds sprinkled on top.
Cooks’ notes:
  • Almonds can be toasted 2 days ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.
Pilaf, without almonds, can be made 1 day ahead and spread in a 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Cool in pan, uncovered, then chill, covered. Bring to room temperature and sprinkle about 2/3 cup water over top, then reheat, tightly covered with foil, in a 350°F oven, about 25 minutes.