Flavor First: Apricot Rice Salad

| April/May 2009

  • This colorful salad reflects the texture of embroidery and the flavors of the Middle East.
    Ben Fink

For Mrs. Ethel Wright Mohamed

Serves 6

• ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
• ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
• 1 green cardamom pod, crushed
• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
• 1 1⁄2 cups basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly
• 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
• 1 bay leaf
• ½ cup chopped dates
• ½ cup diced dried apricots
• ¼ cup dried cherries or cranberries
• 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
• 1 ½ cups water
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1. In a 10-inch ovenproof pan with a tight-fitting lid, briefly heat cumin, coriander and cardamom over medium heat to toast, shaking pan to prevent scorching. When spices are fragrant, remove from pan and let cool. Grind cumin and coriander finely with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.

2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to same pan and heat over medium-high; add red onion, cooking and stirring occasionally for 4 to 6 minutes or until tender.

3. Reduce heat and add rice, toasted spices, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Cook and stir until rice is light golden and each grain is coated with oil. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and mix in dates, apricots and cherries.

4. Add 1 cup of the orange juice, water and salt, stirring briefly just to combine. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

5. Using large fork, fluff up rice and fruit mixture. Turn mixture into a serving dish, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon orange juice, and combine using the fork. Allow to cool, covered by a clean dish towel, then serve at room temperature or chilled, sprinkled with green onion across the top.

Click here for the original article,  Flavor First: Martha Hall Foose's Southern Cuisine .



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