Gingery Wild Rice Pilaf with Dried Apricots and Pecans Recipe

With the holiday feast season upon us it’s time to start thinking about the menus and, perhaps, dishing out assignments for contributions from family and friends. While there are the tried-and-true must-haves, there is always room for a new side dish at the table.

And for festive occasions, nutty wild rice is an excellent choice. Cookbook author Nina Simonds, who contributed this recipe to Real Food, says she likes to complement its earthy flavor with dried fruit—apricots, raisins or cranberries—and buttery, toasted pecans. This recipe also gets a healthy touch of ginger. Chefs and home cooks have embraced ginger for its vibrant flavor, adding it to sweet and savory dishes, but its appeal has broadened since medical and scientific research has confirmed ginger’s health-giving properties. While it can’t compensate for that second piece of pumpkin pie, every little bit helps.

Gingery Wild Rice Pilaf with Dried Apricots and Pecans

Makes 6 Servings

Soaking the wild rice before cooking softens the grains and ensures that even standard wild rice cooks beautifully in just 45 minutes.

1 cup long-grain wild rice
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
312 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole pecans
12 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
34 teaspoon salt
14 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Rinse rice in a large sieve under cold water. Drain and place in a bowl with hot water to cover 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Heat oil and butter in a 5-quart casserole or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion, ginger and orange zest, and sauteÌ 20 seconds, until fragrant. Cover, reduce to medium-low heat and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until onion is soft and slightly transparent. Add rice and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 45 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat.

4. Meanwhile, toast pecans in a small, nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. Let cool slightly and chop coarsely.

5. Add pecans, apricots, salt and pepper, and stir gently to mix. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition Info (Per Serving): CALORIES 309 (146 From Fat); FAT 17g (Sat. 3g); CHOL 5mg; SODIUM 336mg; CARB 35g; FIBER 5g; PROTEIN 9g

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.