Recipe Source: Ward, Susan. Lebanese Cooking. Hackberry Press, Dallas, 1992 p. 99
When you're serving a large number of people, some sort of starch dish can be a really helpful thing to have on the table. A little can go a long way and it fills people up. It becomes even more helpful when you're hosting an unknown number of people, because you can often re-use leftovers as stuffing for something like a chicken breast or a squid tube or whatever. When I saw this recipe, I thought it would be a fun one to try.
I made a few changes. First of all, I decreased the amount of olive oil to 1 tablespoon or so, just because I don't personally need the additional fat. While this got the onions a little browner than I'd wanted, it wasn't a major change and I don't think that it made a difference. I used brown basmati rice, which did increase the amount of water I decided to use and the cooking time. This is probably a good time to mention a new tool I'm trying out: Living Cookbook, which helps manage recipe collections, helps create your shopping lists, and also calculates nutritional information. I'm not in a position to say how accurate the nutritional information is, and when the tool doesn't recognize an ingredient some of the calorie counts seem a little strange to me. This recipe used pretty normal recipes, so if Living Cookbook is to be believed the two changes I made shaved something like 200 calories per serving off the recipe. That's not too shabby!
Ultimately I think I probably liked this recipe. At first I wasn't so sure. There was a kind of strange flavor that took me a moment or so to identify. It didn't seem to come from the rice, and there weren't enough currants to cause this kind of taste. Eventually I figured out that it was the saffron - a flavor I like, just one I'm not used to on its own. At least, I'm not used to it on its own in savory dishes. The currants had an odd texture that I'm not sure I really liked. Since there really weren't a lot of them in the first place, I don't think anything would really be lost by leaving them out.
Finally, before we get into the actual recipe, I want to point out how surprised I was by the final cost: $0.51 per serving. If I had switched out regular white basmati rice for the brown, as called for in the original recipe, the cost per serving would have been $0.35 per serving. I'm submitting this to Frugal Fridays, a weekly blogging event dedicated to helping people keep their food costs down.
Rice with Pine Nuts and Currants (serves 8; approx. $0.51/serving)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
4 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons currants (substitute raisins if currants are unavailable)
1/2 teaspoon saffron
2 cups brown basmati rice
- Saucepan with a lid
- Heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onions until they are limp - about 6 - 8 minutes.
- Add the pine nuts and saute for a few minutes more, until both the onions and nuts are lightly colored.
- Add the currants, saffron and rice, and cook for about 1 minute or until the rice is just transparent.
- Add salt to taste and pour in water to cover, about 1 1/4 pints plus a little extra.
- Cook, covered, on high heat until the water begins to be absorbed, then turn the heat off and allow it to sit until the water is absorbed and the rice tender. If it is still not tender, add a tablespoon or so more water and simmer for a couple of minutes, then leave it to sit a further 5 minutes.