Inspired by Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair”, this cheesy baked rice dish is proof that parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme do go together well.
If you don’t know know the song, the first lines go like this: “Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…” The Simon and Garfunkel arrangement is based on an English ballad that tells of a historical Scarborough Fair during the late Middle Ages. The phrase parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme was not part of the original ballad, however, but is only found in recent versions. As to the significance of the four herbs, one theory is that, together, they form a love charm.
Sarah Brightman’s interpretation of Scarborough Fair (from her La Luna album) was the last song that played on my iTunes before I went downstairs to make lunch yesterday and I got a bad case of LSS. And I wondered if parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme would taste great together or if the combination only sounded good in a song. I was in a whimsical mood so I decided to find out.
Chopped onion was cooked gently in olive oil with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Chopped bacon and Spanish chorizo were added. Rice was stirred in.
The mixture was then placed in an ovenproof bowl and topped with cheese sauce.
After baking for 15 minutes at 425F, that is the result. It is truly delicious.
Despite the meagre amount of meat, the rice is so packed with the flavors of the herbs. Whoever changed the lyrics of the original English ballad to include “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” is a genius — A GENIUS!
Baked rice with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tablespoon if using dried
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tablespoon if using dried
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1/2 tablespoon if using dried
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 tablespoon if using dried
- 3/4 cup chopped bacon
- 3/4 cup chopped Spanish chorizo
- 3 to 4 cups cooked rice (I highly recommend long-grain rice cooked with the least amount of liquid)
- salt to taste
For the cheese sauce
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 cup milk (I used skim milk)
- 125 grams cheese (most varieties will do), grated or cut into small pieces
- Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the chopped onion, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Cook over medium-low heat until fragrant and the onion bits are translucent.
- Turn up the heat to medium. Add the bacon and chorizo. Cook, stirring, for about a minute.
- Turn off the heat. Stir in the cooked rice.
- Transfer the rice mixture to a shallow ovenproof bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 450F. Make the sauce.
- Heat the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour, all at once, stirring to make a smooth paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Pour in the milk in a thin stream, stirring as you pour. Add the cheese and cook gently until melted. Add salt to taste.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the rice.
- Tilt the bowl around to allow the cheese sauce to spread to the edges.
- Bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated 425F oven or until the top is nicely dotted with brown spots.