Tag Archives: rice

Yellow Rice, That’s Mighty Nice


A recipe journey ends in an unexpected place.

Basmati Rice

I have a friend who owns a great Indian restaurant in Sarasota Florida. It’s the kind of place that locals like to hang out. It’s a place where the food says a lot about the people who own it. Warm, comforting, welcoming. It’s an easy place to love.

They have a rice dish on their menu, Cranberry Cashew Pilaf. It’s described as “a rice concoction of sautéed onions, dried cranberries and cashew nuts.” What the description fails to mention is the addictive nature of the dish. At least for my wife. She’s wild about it.

Unfortunately for her, the recipe is a highly guarded secret. It seems a little silly. It’s not as if my non-cooking wife is going to attempt to turn our house into an Indian restaurant. Although, I’ll admit, I wouldn’t mind having that food around all the time.

These days you can find just about any recipe you want on the internet. From Thomas Keller’s famous Oysters and Pearls to a thousand world class meatloaf recipes that any grandmother would be proud of. It’s all there. Well, almost all of it.

A few weeks back we reviewed Bryant Terry’s new cookbook, The Inspired Vegan. Little did I know that contained in the pages would be the rice dish that I had been searching for. Bryant calls it, Yellow Basmati Rice. But, that title didn’t tell the whole story.

I made Bryant’s recipe as part of my cookbook review. One taste told me that I was one step (and two ingredients) away from a breakthrough. So, without further adieu…

Yellow Basmati Rice with Cranberries and Cashews

1 cup basmati rice (soaked overnight in water)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onions, diced finely
1/2 tsp. coarse ground sea salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup cashew pieces

Drain soaked rice into a colander. NOTE: I have made this dish twice. The first time through I didn’t have time to soak the rice overnight. So, I just rinsed it well in a fine mesh strainer. This method produced a finished product closer to what I was looking for. Soaking the rice gave it a distinct barley-like texture and feel when cooked. If you like that, then soak away.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions and the salt. Sauté until well caramelized. About 10 to 15 minutes. I actually had to turn the heat up to medium to get the onions to caramelize in that amount of time. When the onions are browned add the turmeric. Stir for about 30 seconds to fully incorporate. Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes stirring often. The mixture should start to smell nutty and all of the water should be absorbed.

Add 2 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook for 50 minutes.

When rice is cooked. Remove from heat, add cranberries and cashews. Cover and set aside for about 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Serves 4
Recipe adapted Yellow Rice, Bryant Terry, The Inspired Vegan. Da Capo Lifelong Books © 2012.

Here’s what you’ll end up with. Looks amazing, right?


Here’s the thing. Having the recipe is great. Make no mistake about it. Does it replace the experience you get dining at the restaurant? Not even close. So, I’m pretty certain that I’ll continue to take advantage of the fantastic food and hospitality that only the REAL thing can offer.

FYI – The restaurant that makes that delicious Cranberry Cashew Pilaf is Chutney’s, Etc. If you click here, you can drool over their menu online. If you’re in the area, be sure and stop on by and say hello. You’ll be happy you did.

Looking for a copy of Bryant Terry’s The Inspired Vegan? You can grab your very own by clicking the book cover below.

The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus

Thyme For Some Simple Rice

Thyme, thyme, thyme is on my side…

BUY IT - $7 A Meal Cookbook

The side dish. ah yes. It’s not ordinarily the star of the meal, but, it shouldn’t be forgettable either. A fine line, no doubt. I’m always looking for something different that can be made easily and quickly, yet still be a great second banana. I found that very thing in a not so likely source.

Enter The Giant $7 A Meal Cookbook. Billed as “701 inexpensive meals the whole family will love”. Chef Susan Irby, aka The Bikini Chef, has assembled a collection of recipes that she says will feed a family of four for less than seven dollars. In today’s economy that’s a big deal.

Since I don’t have a family of four, I was more interested in how these recipes stacked up from the standpoint of taste, rather than using thriftiness as a measuring stick. I mean after all, it’s fantastic that you could serve your family a meal that only costs $1.75 per person, but, if they can’t choke it down, then what’s the point?

I was going to grill some fish for dinner. So, I was looking for something to partner with it. Rice is always a perfect choice. How about some Long-Grain Rice with Fresh Thyme. That sounds like it has the potential to be a great accompaniment to the seafood.

You’re going to need some fresh thyme.

Fresh Thyme

This is an easy dish to make. So, no matter how complicated your main course is, preparing it won’t make your life miserable. We’ve all been through this drill. You see a dish. It looks easy enough in print. You start cooking. And then wham! You’re in over your head and there’s nothing you can do about it. Insert your own four letter words here. Thankfully, this rice dish doesn’t fall into that category. No surprises.

Choose any type of long grain rice that suits your taste. I chose Basmati.

Basmati Rice

All you need is a little celery, onion and garlic and you pretty much have it. Not a ton of ingredients or steps.

Here’s How To Do It

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, leaves chopped (stems removed)
1 bay leaf
2½ cups water
1 cup long grain rice, uncooked

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions, celery, garlic and thyme. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaf and the water. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil. Once boiling, add the rice. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Take out the bay leaf and serve.

Serves 6

Fresh Thyme

Recipe adapted from Long-Grain Rice with Fresh Thyme, Susan Irby, The Giant $7 a Meal Cookbook, Adams Media

Making this dish is an ideal fit for grilled fish. That final twenty minute cooking time buddies up nicely to the time it takes to grill your fish. One of the potential downsides of preparing some side dishes is that you may need some assistance. Someone to help stir, flip or drain. With this easy dish you can go it alone.

The Bottom Line:

The Giant $7 A Meal Cookbook has tons of recipes that are relatively easy for any home cook to pull off without much trouble. There are not a lot of complicated dishes that leave you wondering if you can actually do this or not. There’s lots of variety and most of the recipes have a reasonable cooking and prep time. That means if you’re a busy working family and someone has to come home from a long day and still cook dinner, you won’t be eating at midnight. This is also the ideal book for that “what can I make with what I’ve got in the fridge” night.

BUY IT! - The Giant $7 a Meal Cookbook: 701 Inexpensive Meals the Whole Family Will Love


Author: Susan Irby
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Adams Media (November 18, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1440506353