In Armenian homes, pilaf (rice) is one of those side dishes that’s always present but rarely noticed. It’s good, it’s filling, it’s cheap, it rounds out the meal – but it’s nothing to write home about.
However, on special occasions we take the time to brown the rice before boiling, and add in some almonds, raisins, meat (NOT vegetarians, of course), noodles, etc. – making it a memorable side dish.
For pilaf to be at it’s best, it really needs to be completed just before serving. While it’s still tasty heated up as a leftover the next day or two, it lacks the freshness it once had. (I know the feeling. Sigh!)
To help reduce the stress of one-more-thing-to-do during the last half hour before meal time, measure out the ingredients ahead and have them at the ready. The most time consuming part of Nutty Fruit Pilaf is sautéing the rice in butter. This takes about 8 minutes and needs almost constant stirring. I suggest you delegate this mindless task – guests, older kids, spouse. You just need someone to keep the rice moving so it doesn’t burn.
NUTTY FRUIT PILAF – makes about 2½ half cups pilaf
- 2 T butter
- 1 cup white rice
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 2 cups vegetable stock (purchased or homemade – recipe at Vegetable Stock)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup peas, cooked
- 1 T fresh parsley, finely chopped (I use scissors)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Melt butter in a saucepan over a medium/low flame and add rice. Stirring frequently, cook rice until browned – about 8 minutes. Turn off flame.
Add in allspice and pepper, stirring another minute to enhance the herb’s flavor.
Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to boil over medium flame. Lower heat to retain a simmer, cover with lid slightly askew to release steam, and let cook 10 minutes. Add in raisins and peas, cover, and continue cooking until liquid is absorbed – probably another 10 minutes.
Stir in parsley, lemon juice, salt, and almonds. Adjust seasoning, as needed.