When I took my boys to Hershey Park last summer, I thought roller coasters would be the highlight.

I was wrong.

The best — best — thing about the trip was the 2-plus hour drive there and back. My youngest sat in front with me and talked.

Now, that might not seem life-changing to you. But at 15-years-old, I’m lucky if I get a grunt out of him most days. Puberty, it seems, has hit him like a Mack truck. Conversation can’t compete with the moodiness and hormones.

Yet for those precious few hours, he talked to me. He told me about his friends. His past trips to Hershey. The coasters he liked best. (And on our trip home, how proud he was that I’d ridden six — six — of them!) The whole day was special, but the best part wasn’t what I’d anticipated.

I thought of that trip last night. We ate the last — last — of our 175-pound fish catch. It was a milestone dinner, and I figured I’d blog about the special way I prepared our final mahi mahi fillets.

fish-sizzlingThe fish was good. I dredged it in seasoned semolina flour, then pan-roasted it.

But the highlight of the meal was the rice: Tender grains of basmati simmered in a vibrant green sauce of cilantro, garlic and parsley.

The rice was a total afterthought. I stumbled on a version of it from Chef Suzanne Goin, but her recipe was a little too time- and ingredient-intensive for what I had on hand. (Some languishing herbs and a couple of almost-shriveled garlic cloves.) Still, her idea of green rice sounded enticing. Using Goin as a guide, I pureed my herbs with garlic, some chicken broth and water, then used the resulting liquid in a 2-to-1 ratio with my basmati.

The herb-soaked rice emerged fresh, fragrant and pale green. It overshadowed the fish.

Kind of like last summer’s ride to Hershey Park.

Unexpected Green Rice

rice-green-sauce

  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves and stems, well-rinsed
  • 1 bunch parsley leaves, well-rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups liquid (chicken broth, water or a combination of the two)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup basmati rice

Place the herbs, garlic and liquid in a blender. Puree for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until the mixture is completely smooth and liquid. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.

Add the rice, some salt and some pepper. Saute for 3-5 minutes, or until the rice is toasty.

Add the herb liquid and tightly cover your pan.

When the mixture begins to boil, turn the heat to very low. Cook 15-20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit — lid still on — for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan’s lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately.

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