This might be my new favorite rice dish. For one, chopped nuts in rice is a combination like peas and carrots. They just go together. The flavor of nuts goes so well with the naturally nutty flavor of rice, and provides just enough crunch and texture. The dried fruit provides a little sweetness, and using different kinds of fruit it keeps every bite different and interesting. Using basmati rice means even the rice itself lends great flavor. And, layers of taste aside, it's fast and easy to make. Yes, it is a pressure cooker recipe, which means "incredibly fast to cook", but even the preparation time is minimal. The recipe comes from Lorna Sass, the pressure cooking maven with an extensive collection of cookbooks that are almost required reading for people who own a pressure cooker. I've yet to find a Lorna Sass recipe that I dislike, and this one might be my favorite so far. For those who haven't been convinced yet that they need a pressure cooker, I'm including stovetop cooking suggestions.
Festive Rice with Fruits and Nuts
1T butter (unsalted) or oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain basmati rice
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/4 cups water (2 2/3 cups water for stovetop cooking)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup mixed chopped dried fruits, such as figs, dates and apricots
1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, pecans, almonds or walnuts, whole or coarsely chopped
1. Heat the butter in a 4 quart or larger cooker (or large saucepan) over high heat. Stir in the rice, allspice and cinnamon, taking care to coat rice with butter. Stir in the water and salt.
2. For pressure cooker, lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally for 6 minutes before quick-releasing remaining pressure. (For my electric pressure cooker I cooked 6 minutes under high pressure with 2 minutes of natural release before quick releasing pressure.) Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.
For stovetop cooking, bring rice and water to a boil, cover pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes over low heat, or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.
3. Quickly stir in the dried fruits and adjust the seasonings. Immediately cover and let steam until fruits are hot and rice is tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss in the nuts and serve.
Recipe source: Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass