In college, I had already been living in an apartment and cooking for myself for almost a year before I took a real interest in cooking, and shortly thereafter, I received America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook as a Christmas gift. Having grown a bit bored with living off basic chicken and rice dishes, green bean casserole, and tuna melts, I was super excited to try some new recipes, and this rice pilaf (or a similar version, anyway) was one of the first ones I tried. While I still have yet to find a recipe in the cookbook that I dislike, this rice pilaf remains one of my favorites to this day.
The original recipe calls for cinnamon and turmeric, but being fairly new to cooking when I received the book, I had yet to learn to recognize the distinctive hue (or scent) of turmeric. I would buy spices in these plastic pouches (they were cheaper than in the little bottles), but then often lost the accompanying packaging that identified the spice, so I picked the one that I thought looked most like turmeric and went with it.
Luckily, it still yielded a delicious end product, but once I realized that it was not, in fact, turmeric, it took me a while to figure out what it was – and I started to worry, as my supply of the mystery spice was running out, that I wouldn’t be able to reproduce my favorite rice dish if I couldn’t identify the spice! My dad was the one who, after performing a comparison smell test, determined that I had actually been using cumin. #rookiemistakes, right?
This cherry cashew rice pilaf is a little garlick-y, a little sweet (thanks to the cinnamon), a little savory (thanks to the cumin), and is studded with tart dried cherries (or cranberries) and salty cashews – it’s a smorgasbord of flavors in each bite! It’s also simple to make – as long as your spices are properly labeled 😉 – and I hope you love it as much as I do!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups white rice, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1/3 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
- 1/4 cup roasted cashews
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the diced onions and salt. Sauté the onions until softened, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, rinse and drain the rice and measure out the cinnamon and cumin. Once the onions are softened, add the rice, cinnamon, cumin, and garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom.
- Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for about 17 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the dried cherries (or cranberries). Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice, season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with cashews.
Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs says
Such a cute post!! Wonderful rice pilaf recipe.. I’d totally eat that whole bowlful! <3
Thanks! I’m tempted to do just that every time I make it 🙂
My mouth is watering just looking at these photos. The cashews and cherries really add a nice pop to this 🙂
Mine too! They really do – I’ve skipped the cashews a few times when I didn’t have any on hand, and it’s still super tasty, but they do add a nice crunch.
HomeSweetJones (@HomeSweetJones) says
Yummy! But I have to say that “basic chicken and rice dishes, green bean casserole, and tuna melts” sounds pretty darn sophisticated for your first year of cooking.
Haha, thanks! I tried 😛
Oh my goodness, this looks amazing! Also, those sound like my meals when I was in college :). I seriously need to get me a good cookbook.. I am always making the same thing.
I definitely have phases where I make the same half a dozen recipes over and over again…sometimes you just need something familiar, you know? If you’re in the market for a good cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen has served me very well!
Erin | Well Plated says
I <3 ATK! Great healthy lunch idea.
Good ol’ ATK…it has yet to steer me wrong! Thanks 🙂
Rachael | Spache the Spatula says
Hah! Luckily, cinnamon and cumin go together super well 😀 Love that!
This looks super tasty!
Haha yes, I was lucky – it could have turned out disgusting!
Cherry and cashew pilaf is so unique! I’m such a fan of any rice dish, this looks great.
Thanks, and I hope you get a chance to try it – I’m sure you’ll love it 🙂
Pilaf is a family favorite. This looks so good. Definitely need to try it soon!
Thanks! Let me know if you try it 🙂
I love pilaf with fruit and nuts and spices! What a wonderful and tasty side dish!
Thanks, and thanks for stopping by! I hope you get a chance to try this 🙂