Rice Pilaf is an incredibly versatile dish; there is no limit to the number of flavour and ingredient combinations you can develop, and it is a great way to feed a crowd. If you cool leftovers quickly and store them in the refrigerator you can serve them as a rice salad the next day or reheat them until they are piping hot and serve with a poached egg on top for a quick lunch. (In the photograph above, I served my rice pilaf dish with Apricot and Onion Chicken – recipe to follow – but the pilaf itself is meatless and vegetarian.)
Last October, Alea and I featured Jessica of Kitchen Belleicious’ Pecan Rice Pilaf with Spice on The Gallery of Favorites, and ever since then I’ve been thinking about making a rice pilaf with pecans in it. Jessica’s pilaf was much spicer than one I would make and it contained pumpkin seeds as well as pecans. She also used some different vegetables. However, it was her delicious pilaf that definitely inspired me, even if it did take me rather a long time to act on that inspiration!
I used leeks in my recipe. They are one of our favourite vegetables and they are in season here at the moment. You could use onions if there are no leeks available, although I’d probably just use one. There is endless scope for invention here, and I hope my pilaf will inspire you to try some different herbs, spices, vegetables and nuts, just as Jessica’s inspired me.
Adapted from Kitchen Belleicious
Serves 8 as a side dish
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted if possible
2 cups sliced leeks
2 cups white rice
4 cups vegetable stock
2 medium carrots, grated
½ cup pecans
½ teaspoon onion salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC) to toast the pecans.
Melt the tablespoon of butter in a very small saucepan and stir in the pecans. Spread on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 5 minutes or until they begin to toast a little. Be careful, it’s really easy to burn nuts, so keep your eye on them. Remove the nuts from the baking sheet, and when cool enough to handle, chop them roughly.
Melt the quarter cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and the rice and toss to coat in the butter. Cook, stirring constantly for two or three minutes, or until the rice starts to pick up some colour.
Add the stock and stir to mix. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the carrots, onion salt, pepper and nutmeg. Put the lid back on and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
Stir the toasted pecans through with a fork and serve.
Cool and refrigerate any leftovers promptly.