Saturday, April 4, 2020

Armenian Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds

What would any holiday be without serving traditional pilaf? Christine Vartanian Datian learned from the best - her mother Alice Vartanian and her late grandmother, Pepay Sarkisian.  They taught her how to prepare many holiday dishes including this festive nut-and fruit-topped pilaf.
Christine's recipe for Armenian Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds was originally published in the New York Times 2014 Thanksgiving Food Blog.
This updated version of a family favorite is in demand, especially during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

Armenian Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds

Yield: 8 servings


4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup dried vermicelli, crushed or broken into pieces (may substitute Angel hair pasta)

2 cups long-grain white rice

4 cups fat-skimmed chicken or turkey broth

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper (to taste)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds (Marcona almonds, if available)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped golden or black raisins

1/2 cup frozen petite peas (optional)

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Break vermicelli into 1-inch lengths.  Add pasta and rice to 3 tablespoons butter and stir often until golden, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the broth, allspice, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until rice is tender to bite, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in an 8- to 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat, melt remaining 1 or 2 tablespoons butter.  Add the almonds, and stir often until golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the raisins and stir until they puff, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Stir peas, parsley, and lemon juice into rice.  Cover and simmer until peas are hot, about 3-4 minutes, and remove from heat.  Allow pilaf to sit another 10 minutes.  When the liquid is fully absorbed, it is ready to serve.  Serve pilaf in a bowl or on a platter and sprinkle with the raisin and nut mixture.
Note: Diced dried dates, pistachios, and apricots may also be used in this topping.


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