A simple and delicious, traditional way to dress up rice. When we were little we called it “fancy rice” because the broken bits of tiny thin noodles and bits of beautiful orange carrots just seemed to make it special. It’s a meal in itself or a lovely side dish and perfect served hot from the stove or room temp for lunch.
This recipe uses authentic fithe noodles. These are very ,very thin pasta noodles dried in the shape of small nests. You can find authentic fithe noodles at Greek and Middle Eastern markets and a good Greek brand is Misko. Goya also makes a good option (fideos/fide noodles) that you can often find in larger grocery stores in the International foods aisle. If you can’t find the real thing, try substituting angel hair or vermicelli pasta. Either of these will work nicely in a pinch.
I like to use carrots here and they are the most traditional mix-in for this dish. I’ve also had it with peas which you can add to or use in place of the carrots and once, with green peppers which was interesting. Remember to chop your carrots into very small pieces. This will help them to cook quickly and not to overpower the rice/noodles.
And it’s important in this recipe to sweat rather sauté or fry your onions. It makes them softer and keeps them more in line with the other textures of the dish. Sweating is simply cooking your onions in oil, covered, over low heat until they’re translucent and very soft.
When you’re ready to add the fithe noodles, first break them up into small pieces maybe about 1-2″ long. Once broken, add them to the onions and oil to brown them a bit before cooking in the vegetable broth.
I absolutely recommend using vegetable broth here instead of plain water. A good broth will add so much more flavor than water alone and it really makes a big difference in your finished dish.
Rice with fithe and vegetables is also a favorite of children. It certainly was one of ours as kids and is still a favorite of mine today!
When you’re serving this dish, try molding the rice/noodles in a plastic wrap lined bowl and turn out onto a pretty plate for a special presentation. This recipe is very easy to double or triple and I’ve done so many times with good results. Something I like to remember when scaling the recipe is to keep the amounts of rice and fithe noodles equal. This helps to keep a nice balance to the ingredients no matter how much you make.
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- 3 nests of fithe (or 1 1/2 cup broken pasta) – same measure as rice used
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup green peas (if frozen, thaw first)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 cups vegetable broth
Sweat onions and carrots in olive oil, covered, on low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and add broken fithe noodles. Stir and cook gently until they are a bit brown, about 5 minutes. Add rice and green peas, stir to combine well and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add broth, bring heat up to med low (simmer), cover and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is soft. Remove from heat, carefully uncover and fluff with a fork. Serve warm or room temperature.
This recipe makes about 4 cups of rice and fithe with vegetables. I can usually get 2-3 good adult sized meals and about 6 smaller side portions from the above measurements. I hope you enjoy ‘fancy’ rice as much as I do! Kali Orexi
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