This rice dish is hearty without being too heavy — a perfect a transitional meal from Summer into Autumn.
By Mariela Alvarez Toro
This recipe was originally made using one of the plenty shallots we grew over the summer. My parents were in town visiting for the first time since we moved here. We wanted to celebrate their departure with something familiar, yet local, and unique. We went to the farmers market together, to forage what we would make for dinner. Lettuce, vegetables, chicken, and herbs filled our bags quickly with just enough room for a couple of treats.
The menu called for grilled eggplant, a rice dish of sorts, a huge Florida avocado, and grilled chicken, with an awesome chimichurri sauce on the side. Everything was easy, relaxed, and required minimal preparation. It was the perfect summer meal!
While the chicken marinated, and the chimichurri sauce was being made, I whipped up the rice dish using ingredients I had laying around in the pantry: chickpeas, cashews, spices, and brown rice. Because the rest of the components of the meal were simple, I wanted the rice to stand out. It needed to be special, without being stuffy or pretentious. It needed to be robust and hearty, to stand up to the rest of the components of the meal without being too heavy.
The shallots melted into a beautiful caramelized concoction of flavors that was to die for. Coconut oil, coriander and cumin infused the kitchen. It was almost intoxicating, but in a good way. The final result was delicious to say the least! Each bite is balanced: crunchy cashews, fresh cilantro, chewy rice, and meaty chickpeas. Everything infused with a hearty aroma of cumin and coriander.
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 shallots, sliced thin
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- Pinch of salt
- 1 16 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup brown basmati rice
- ¼ cup raw cashews
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth, or water
- 1 handful cilantro
- ¼ cup roasted cashews
- Place a pot over medium heat. Add coconut oil, sliced shallots, cumin, coriander and salt.
- Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shallots become translucent and aromatic. Adjust heat as necessary; you don’t want the spices to burn!
- Add chickpeas, rice, and cashews. Stir. Cook for a minute, and then add vegetable broth.
- Cook rice uncovered for ten minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for another 25-30 minutes. Do not uncover or stir during this time. Rice likes to be left alone; otherwise it will become mushy and unappetizing.
- After 25 minutes have passed, remove from heat and fluff with fork.
- Add chopped cilantro and roasted cashes. Serve hot with salad, grilled vegetables, or meat.
- This pilaf can be eaten as a main dish as well. It is full of good carbohydrates, protein, and fat, which will keep you feeling full and energized.
Recently graduated with from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She has recently completed "People in Food-Space", an ethnographic study on the cultural production of taste in space. She has also examined post-soviet food production systems and housing projects in Havana, Cuba. Originally from Puerto Rico, Mariela has been living in the United States for eight years. She has involved herself in both teaching and practice, while writing on food at tastyplan.com. Her goal as a food writer is to cook creatively, using the best ingredients to find new flavor combinations every day.