Some dishes are strictly for the big people. Big people -at our house- is defined as anyone old enough to wear adult sized shoes. Conveniently, this line of demarcation also happens to fall right in place and divide the adventurous vegetable eating crew from the anti-veg contingent. I say this in the hopes that the anti-veg crew will ‘eat up’ from their current station and see a diet comprised of things that aren’t always brown as a rite of passage into adulthood. Seeing as they are already miffed at their elder brothers’ ability to stay up late to watch Psych and Top Chef with mom and dad, I feel confident this will work eventually.
In the meantime, these ‘strictly big people’ dishes are still getting made and presented. There are two reasons for this. First, I firmly believe that the more I offer a certain food, the likelier they are to eventually try it and like it. Second, and -frankly- more importantly, I make them because my husband and I like them. We aren’t about to hot dog and tater tot* our way through every meal just because we have kids.
*Super important: I love hot dogs and tater tots, too, but woman cannot live on tube steak alone.
What you see above is what makes this big people food in our house. The recipe I’m sharing is -without question- our favourite rice side dish. Earthy wild rice and fragrant brown basmati rice are cooked in chicken stock then tossed with tart dried cherries that plump up in the steam from the rice, scallions, and loads of fresh herbs. It is beyond perfect with fish, pork, chicken, beef, and venison. I love this pilaf so much that I deliberately over-make it so that I can have leftovers for breakfast and lunch the next day.
It’s not just delicious, though, even though it’s taste would be enough to recommend it. It is such a lovely dish with the thin black wild rice and the pale brown basmati, the vibrant green of the scallions, jalapeno, and herbs, and the deep black-red of the dried cherries that I can’t help but be a it proud every time I put a bowl of it on the table.
- My preferred method of preparing this is in a rice cooker. It can be done on the stove top, to be sure, but the consistent perfection, no-worries or guesswork ease that a rice cooker delivers make it hard to beat. I really recommend you have one if you eat a lot of rice, oatmeal, or other grains in your home. (Did you know a rice cooker doesn’t just cook rice? It’s true! Here’s an Amazon affiliate link for my favourite kind.
…and here’s another for one that’s a bit more of a bargain:
- Dried cherries are the star of this dish. Maybe I’m biased, being from Michigan originally, but I think the best (and most economically priced) dried cherries in the world come from the Grand Traverse Bay Area. They’re most often marketed as Montmorency County Cherries. I usually buy them in 4-pound packages from my BFF Amazon. Here’s an Amazon affiliate link to the ones that I keep stocked in my pantry at all times:
…and here’s one for no-sugar dried cherries if that’s your thing:
- ¾ cup wild rice
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 4¼ cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 5 green onions, trimmed then thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro (can substitute parsley if you are averse to cilantro), roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- ½ of a fresh jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, finely diced
- Spray the rice cooker bowl with non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil. Stir together the wild rice, brown basmati rice, stock, and salt. Close the rice cooker and start a "Brown Rice" cycle. When the cycle is complete, open the lid and quickly fluff the rice with a paddle or spoon. Scatter the cherries, green onions, cilantro, parsley, and jalapeno over the top, close the lid, and let steam for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes have elapsed, use the rice paddle or spoon to toss the ingredients together. The cherries will have plumped slightly and the pilaf will smell very fragrant.
- Stir together the brown basmati rice, wild rice, stock, and salt in a heavy-bottomed 2 or 3 quart saucepan that has a tight fitting lid. Bring the mixture to a boil, stir twice, then cover tightly with the lid. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes (not lifting the lid!). When the time is up, open the lid, and quickly fluff the rice with a paddle or spoon. Scatter the cherries, green onions, cilantro, parsley, and jalapeno over the top, put the lid back on the pan, and let steam for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes have elapsed, use the rice paddle or spoon to toss the ingredients together. The cherries will have plumped slightly and the pilaf will smell very fragrant.