Pilau and pilaf are first cousins! This dish, which can be rice- or bulghur-based, originated in the Near East. You begin by first browning the rice in butter or oil before adding water or stock. The dish can be variously seasoned and usually contains cooked chopped vegetables, meats, seafood, or poultry. It's easily prepared and can accompany a variety of foods. You'll really be surprised at how versatile it is. Be creative and add whatever chopped vegetables -- like yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, green beans -- you've got on hand, or whatever suits your fancy. The important thing is the proportion of liquid to rice.
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 pound boiled ham, diced 1-1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 cups long-grain white rice
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (green and white parts)
1/2 cup seeded and chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup frozen peas
3-1/2 cups Chicken Stock (page 2) or canned low-sodium chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Melt the butter in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the onions, celery, salt, pepper, and bay leaves and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the green onions, tomatoes, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir in the peas and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Remove the pan from the heat and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let stand, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
Before serving, fluff the rice with a fork.