Thursday, October 24, 2013

Orange Almond Rice Pilaf

Fall is truly upon us here in North Carolina.  I felt like it took forever to get here, but now that it's here I am welcoming it into my home with warm fall flavors.  This orange almond rice pilaf is one of my favorite side dishes.  I was sneaking spoonfuls as I was finishing up the salmon we ate with it.  While many people might prefer citrus to be a summer flavor I absolutely adore orange in fall and winter dishes especially combined with nuts.  

Rice pilaf is typically best served with a main dish that doesn't have a sauce to disrupt the flavors that are already happening in the rice.  How well this dish will turn out for you really depends on the quality of your rice.  I always buy a high quality Thai jasmine rice from our local Asian market but good quality basmati and other rices will work just fine.  My rule of thumb is look and see how much water the package tells you to add and instead of using water use half chicken stock and half orange juice.  Perfect balance of flavor.

Orange Almond Rice Pilaf

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped or sliced almonds
2 cups jasmine rice
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp coarse ground pepper
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp orange zest

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion in and cook until opaque.  Stir in the almonds and the rice.  The rice will look glossy and opaque.  Stir frequently until the majority of the rice is solid white.  Stir in the orange juice, chicken stock, pepper and salt and bring to a boil.  Cover and turn to low.  Cook until the liquid is gone and the rice is tender.  Stir the orange zest in and serve.

**Depending on your rice you may need more or less liquid.  Look at the instruction on the package to see how much water they recommend you use.  For that water amount use 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 orange juice.  For example for a package that says 1 cup of rice needs 2 cups of water your recipe will use 2 cups rice, 2 cups chicken stock and 2 cups orange juice.**

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