Sunday, February 24, 2008

Apricot Pine Nut Pilaf

Recipe from Pillsbury and Tested in Alice's Kitchen
7 (1/2 cup servings)

My husband often asks me to make this yummy side dish. I think it's because he's a big fan of dried apricots. This is easy to make and pretty to look at, so it's great for company. It pairs perfectly with chicken and fish. You can make this dish vegetarian/vegan by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth and a using a substitute for butter. You'll find rice, pine nuts and dried apricots in the bulk section at Lost River Market & Deli. (There's information about pine nuts at the bottom of this entry.)

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup pine nuts or blanched slivered almonds
1 cup uncooked regular rice
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (sprinkle with just a bit of flour before chopping to keep your knife from sticking to the apricots)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (green onions)

Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add nuts; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add rice; cook and stir 3-5 minutes or until rice is golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover; simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Add nuts, apricots and onions; cook covered over low heat for 5 minutes.

pine nut: Also called Indian nut, piñon, pignoli and pignolia this high-fat nut comes from several varieties of pine trees. The nuts are actually inside the pine cone, which generally must be heated to facilitate their removal. This labor-intensive process is what makes these nuts so expensive. Pine nuts grow in China, Italy, Mexico, North Africa and the southwestern United States. Because of their high fat content, pine nuts turn rancid quickly. They should be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 months, frozen for up to 9 months. Pine nuts can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes and are well known for their flavorful addition to the classic Italian pesto.

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