In February, I will have been vegan for a year. This is my first time navigating through the holidays with the challenge of eating vegan. I must say, it sure does cure the problem of over-eating when you have very limited dishes to choose from (pretty much the ones you bring yourself) at parties and family gatherings. It really simplifies things and forces me to make good choices. I’m on a bit of a mission to convince my friends and family that vegan does NOT equal yuck. As I was searching for crowd-pleasing vegan side dishes I could bring, I came across a recipe for Cranberry, Apricot and Wild Rice Pilaf. Today, I did a trial run.
No surprise here – it turned out great. No, not because I’m a fabulous chef or recipe writer. Because it was created by Angela of Oh She Glows. I’ve tried several of her recipes and they’re always winners. Her blog is FULL of great recipes, from smoothies to seasonal dishes and everything in between. Her Cranberry, Apricot & Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf recipe is somehow creamy, crunchy, sweet, savory and a teeny bit tart all at the same time. It’s a really delicious combination of flavors. Oh, and did I mention that it’s gluten-free, too?
If you like, you can make this recipe 1 day in advance. Do not add pecans until just before serving. Allow pilaf to cool, then store in an air tight container in the fridge. Reheat in a skillet just before serving and stir in pecans.
YIELDS 4.5 to 5 CUPS
¾ cup pecans, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping cup chopped sweet onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ cups chopped celery + ½ cup, divided
1½ cups uncooked wild rice
2 cups vegetable broth (be sure to use gluten-free if required)
1½ cups water
1 bay leaf
¾ tsp kosher salt (or to taste) + black pepper as desired
½ cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup dried apricots, chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
½ cup fresh cranberries, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 325ºF and toast the pecans for about 7-8 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Sauté onion, oil, and garlic in a large skillet over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add 1½ cups chopped celery and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Add wild rice, broth, water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low-medium. Cover with lid and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once half way through.
After 30 minutes, uncover, stir, and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Note that wild rice cooking times can vary a lot so keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. (My rice took much longer to cook and I had to add a lot more liquid, so adjust liquid and cooking time as needed.)
Remove bay leaf and stir in the dried fruit. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper (I ended up adding so much vegetable broth that it didn’t need any seasoning at all). Stir in the sliced fresh cranberries, remaining ½ cup chopped raw celery and toasted pecans.
Who needs boring old stuffing when you can have a far more interesting, flavorful, beautiful and HEALTHY dish like this one? Folks, we have a winner ;)
Now… off to help our friends with packing and moving. Our house guests, Amanda and Jason, closed on their new home a week ago and have been busy getting the house all ready for move-in day. We’ll be helping them get settled in over the next couple of days. Sadly, I will no longer have a third taste tester (aka Amanda) on hand :(. But we are happy for them and I’m sure they can’t wait to move out of our basement! LOL!