Monday, November 14, 2011

Brown Rice Pilaf with Dried Cranberries, Almonds and Kale

A couple of weeks ago I attended a cooking class (well, really more of a demonstration) at our local Whole Foods.  The topic was Vegetarian Cooking which peaked my interest since I'm always on the lookout for delicious and satisfying vegetarian dishes to incorporate into our weekly dinner menu.

On the menu was a Warm Farro Pilaf with Dried Cranberries and a Warm Cranberry Pear Cider.  I didn't really care for the Cranberry Pear Cider at all - am I the only person who really DOESN'T like super-sweet spiced drinks?  Egg-nog, warm apple cider....they don't really do anything for me...

Anyhow, the Pilaf was DELICIOUS!  During the class demonstration, we used unhulled barley rather than farro (apparently they were sold out of farro?!!?) and I loved the nutty flavor and chewy texture of the barley, along with the savory bitterness of the kale and the tangy, chewy dried cranberries.

I really love the versatility of this dish, it was fantastic as a side-dish with chicken but it would also be DELISH as a vegetarian main-course (even for Thanksgiving dinner!).  You can also play around with the grain - I used brown rice since it's all we had at home, and the dark leafy greens- I used kale but collard greens, spinach or chard would work too.  I also substituted sliced almonds since we didn't have any pine nuts at home. You can see my changes reflected in the recipe below, for the original recipe check out the link to Vegetarian Times.

Brown Rice Pilaf with Dried Cranberries, Almonds and Kale
serves 4-6
adapted from Vegetarian Times

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound kale, stem removed, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sliced almonds

2 cups cooked brown rice (I cooked mine in vegetable broth)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute diced onions 5-7 minutes.  Add kale and cook 5-7 minutes or until just wilted.  Reduce heat to medium and stir in garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook 1-2 minutes, then add cooked rice.  Saute 3-5 minutes or until warmed through.  Remove from heat and stir in cranberries and sliced almonds.  Serve warm.

Have you ever cooked with Farro, Barley or any of the other "Ancient Grains"?

I've made barley before, in a stew.  I've been meaning to use it more frequently which is why I bought it.  Too bad it never made it home from the store.  It's probably laying out on the streets of Tampa somewhere.  Or maybe (probably a little more likely) they just never bagged it up for me at the commissary??


  1. I'm totally making this for dinner. What do I spy on the plate next to it - chicken?

  2. OH, it must be the rosemary buttermilk chicken breast!


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