When a side dish is this simple, I tend to either (1) avoid serving it entirely, (2) try to enhance it with creative ingredients (example: Ginger Pineapple Fried Rice), or (3) opt for a short cut (read: a box of Uncle Ben’s) because “oh, no one will really know the difference.”
Thanks to my dad, I’ve recently realized that — at least with white rice — there is a better alternative. This is his recipe.
Surprisingly-Good-Yet-Still-Simple White Rice
2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
3-4 small cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup Basmati white rice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups water
Equipment: Medium-sized Dutch oven or other pot with tight-fitting lid
Heat the olive oil in the bottom the Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1-2 minutes. Using a fork, turn each piece of garlic; cook until lightly browned on the other side. Remove the garlic from the oil and set aside.*
Add the rice to the hot oil. Using a rubber spatula, stir the rice until most of the rice kernels have been coated in oil and turned opaque, about 1 minute. Add the salt and water; stir to combine. Cover, and bring to a boil.
When the water reaches a boil, remove cover and stir once or twice. Reduce heat to low and replace the cover. Simmer, covered, until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Remove Dutch oven from heat. Fluff rice gently with a fork. Serve soon.
*Serve the fried garlic alone, or use it in another dish. My husband, John, and my brother, Chris, love to eat it plain. I prefer to add the leftover garlic to things like hummus, roasted eggplant dip, tarter sauce, or chimichurri.