Don’t you just love side dishes?  Like a good movie, they’re the supporting cast that provides dimension for the leading character.  Without them, dinner is just a boring monologue rather than interplay of personalities and wit.

And, as much as I like rice on its own, it’s so much better when you add a little something to it.  Suddenly, it goes from being a bland, blank canvas to being a flavorsome accent to the main.  In the case of this recipe, you only need a couple of items to turn boring brown rice into a dish that would actually be great on its own.

Tomato, Pepper and Mozzarella Pilaf

  • 4-6 cups cooked brown rice, hot
  • 15 or so cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered (don’t use beefsteak as they’d have too much juice)
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 large ball mozzarella, pulled into chunks
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Heat a large pan over medium high heat and drizzle with olive oil.  When hot, add the diced onion and red pepper, seasoning lightly.  Cook until done.  In the meantime, put the quartered tomato, olive oil and vinegar in the bottom of a large bowl.  Add the hot onions and pepper mixture and toss – this will lightly cook the tomatoes.  Add the rice, mozzarella and parsley and toss to mix with the oil and vinegar.  Taste for seasoning and serve warm.