This is a great dish that can be served as an appetizer, a side, or as a meal by itself. Best of all, it can be prepared ahead of time up to the point of baking. My family and I like green peas with the flavor of saffron rice, which is a classic Italian combination, but you can also use asparagus or mushrooms. To make this into a main course, try adding diced ham, prosciutto, or even leftover cubed chicken to the rice. Serve it with a green salad on the side and you've just treated your family or friends to an elegant and delicious meal without breaking the bank.
A crisp and refreshing white wine perfectly complements the creaminess of the saffron scented rice. A food-friendly Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or California offers a lovely range of herbal and tropical fruit flavors while its acidity balances the richness of the Parmesan cheese.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/8 teaspoons saffron threads, crushed
1 cup uncooked short or medium grain rice
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat olive oil and butter in a large heavy pan. Saute onions until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for another half a minute on low. Add crushed saffron and rice and continue cooking for another minute, stirring constantly. Stir in chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for about 25-30 minutes over low heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir occasionally and add more chicken stock if needed. Remove from heat when rice is tender to the bite, but consistency of mixture is creamy.
- Add green peas, parsley, and 3/4 cup cheese and mix until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a buttered casserole or baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.
- If preparing ahead of time, cover dish tightly with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.