WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:
This elegant version of rice pilaf combines rice with pieces of vermicelli that have been toasted in fat to add richness and a nutty flavor. In order to produce a rice pilaf with rice as perfectly cooked as the pasta, we had to get the rice and pasta to cook at the same rate. Soaking the rice in hot water for a mere 10 minutes softened its outer coating and let it absorb water quickly. Once the pasta and rice were cooked, we let the pilaf stand for 10 minutes with a towel under the lid to absorb steam. Then we fluffed it with a fork and stirred in fresh herbs.
Use long, straight vermicelli or vermicelli nests. This recipe works equally well with dark purple Mission or Golden Figs.
Rice and Pasta Pilaf with California Figs and Walnuts
- 1 1/2 cups basmati rice or long-grain white rice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 ounces vermicelli broken into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs stemmed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup walnuts toasted and chopped coarse
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Place rice in medium bowl and cover with hot tap water by 2 inches; let stand for 15 minutes.
- Using your hands, gently swish grains to release excess starch. Carefully pour off water, leaving rice in bowl. Add cold tap water to rice and pour off water. Repeat adding and pouring off water 4 to 5 times, until water runs almost clear. Drain rice in fine-mesh strainer.
- Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 3 minutes. Add ginger and rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until edges of rice begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add broth, salt, and cumin and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Off heat, remove lid, fold dish towel in half, and place dish towel over saucepan; replace lid. Let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with fork; stir in figs, walnuts, cilantro, and lemon juice; and serve.