Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Pilaf as a Main

Posted August 30, 2011

Pilaf with Vermicelli, Chickpeas, Apricots, and Pistachios
Adapted from Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume
Serves 4-6

I have a large spice cabinet and I actually have something called Turkish spice mix, bought at a farmers’ market.  This dish needs something so, assuming you do not have Turkish spice, you can add pinches of cumin, coriander, even a bit of curry.  Fennel would be fine too.  And lots of black pepper. 

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 shallots, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of saffron
2 tsp. Turkish spice mix
3 ounces vermicelli pasta (or angel hair or spaghetti), broken into 1-inch lengths
1½ cups Arborio rice
1 cup cooked chickpeas (I used canned)
½ cup chopped dried apricots
4 cups vegetable stock or water
½ cup coarsely chopped pistachios
Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Melt the butter, then add the shallots and a large pinch of salt.  Sauté, stirring frequently, until starting to turn golden, about 4 minutes.  Stir in saffron and the spices.  Add the vermicelli and stir continuously until the pasta starts to turn golden.  It burns easily so be careful.  Add the rice, chickpeas, and apricots and stir to coat the rice with the fat and the spices.  Pour in stock (or water) and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Cook over low heat for 20 minutes.  Check for water a couple of times as you might need to add more.

When the rice is tender, add the pistachios and turn off the heat.  Cover the saucepan with a clean kitchen towel and replace the lid.  Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes – this will allow the the rice to cook further and become more fluffy.

One more thought:  My dish was not particularly fluffy.  I didn’t mind, it was stick to your ribs hearty which is nice for a main course.  Arborio rice, the one that was called for in this recipe and which is also used to make risotto, is starchy and heavier than a basmati.  I imagine that if you use basmati or jasmine, you will end up with a fluffier pilaf.  Let me know if you try?

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