I don’t know what it is about combining tomato and fresh basil in a dish. Do it with pizza and it’s good. Do it with pasta and the deceptively simple dish actually hides a trove of flavors. I’ve done it with scrambled eggs and the result was lovely too. So, it really was just a matter of time before I did the same with rice. This time, however, the tomato-basil duo became a garlic-tomato-basil trio. The flavors are bold and the aroma is enticing.
You’ll need belly bacon. Because, seriously, you can’t render fat from fatless bacon. And if your belly bacon is not fatty enough to render a sufficient amount of fat, there’s always butter. That was what I did. When the bacon started to brown, I realized I was not going to get enough fat to cook the rice in. So, I added a tablespoon of butter.
The browned bacon bits were scooped out leaving the bacon fat in the pan. Chopped garlic went in and stirred around for a minute or so. When the edges of the garlic bits started to brown, cherry tomatoes were added. You may use any tomato, really, but cherry tomatoes were all we had. They were rather large so I cut them into quarters before throwing into the pan.
Next, fresh basil leaves. Sweet basil, to be more precise. Unlike Thai basil which can withstand cooking without losing all its flavor, sweet basil does not benefit from long cooking. So, after a quick stir, I added the rice immediately. A bit of salt was sprinkled in not only to flavor the rice but to create a contrast with the acidity of the tomatoes.
The dish is ready, and perfectly delicious, once the rice is heated through. But, let’s not forget the bacon. The browned bacon can be tossed in or used as topping. It’s really up to you. Either way, I assure you that the fried rice will be delicious.
- Heat a frying pan and spread the bacon in it.
- Cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fat as been rendered.
- Scoop out the bacon and set aside.
- Check the bacon fat and make sure you have at least two tablespoonfuls. If not, add just enough butter to cover the deficiency.
- Over medium-low heat, cook the garlic in the bacon fat until the edges are just starting to brown.
- Add the tomatoes and sprinkle in two pinches of salt.
- Cook, tossing, until the tomatoes are heated through.
- Add the basil and give everything a quick stir.
- Throw in the rice and sprinkle in two to three pinches of salt.
- Turn up the heat and cook, tossing, until the rice is heated through.
- Taste and add more salt, if needed.
- Ladle the rice into two bowls and top with the bacon. Or, alternatively, toss the bacon with the rice before serving.