Separating the onion mixture from the rice and assembling the pilaf in a bowl or souffle dish makes it easy to reheat and then turn out as a layered presentation. This pilaf also could be served as a cold salad by adding a tablespoon or two of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/4 cup of chopped parsley just before serving.
Make Ahead: The pilaf can be made a day in advance, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. To reheat in the microwave, cook on HIGH for several minutes until heated through. To reheat in an oven, replace the plastic wrap with aluminum foil and heat at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Follow final directions for serving.
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (3/4 to 1 cup)
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cut into thin slices
- Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) pine nuts, toasted (see NOTE)
- 1/3 cup dried unsulphured unsweetened apricots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Leaves from 4 to 6 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, washed well and patted dry, plus more for (optional) garnish
- Chopped scallions, for garnish (optional)
Prepare the basmati rice according to the package directions (to yield 3 cups cooked). Rinse with cold water and drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the onion and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onion is a dark golden brown. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have browned and released their juices.
Add the mushrooms to the onions in the bowl, along with the thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, nuts, apricots and parsley; mix well to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish, then layer the cooked basmati rice on top, pressing it down gently.
(At this point, the dish can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
To serve, invert the pilaf onto a platter so the vegetable mixture is on the top. Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions, if desired.
NOTE: Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking once or twice, for about 3 minutes, until they are golden.
From columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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