Persian Fruit Pilaf

In Recipies on June 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I’ll continue my hot weather tribute to all things minty with a recipe having origins with noted Middle Eastern cooking guru, Faye Levy.

Levy published the original version in Feast from the Mideast (HarperCollins 2003). Her original Persian-style version uses peaches for the fruit portion of the salad. I went with a more Israeli-themed variation using orange segments. Both versions are visually stunning and are true summertime heat busters.

I have made other variations of Levy’s original by using a dash or so of ground cardamom…a floral spice favored in Persia. I have also substituted pine nuts or roasted sunflower seeds for Levy’s sliced almonds. And, when my usual stocks of mint are running short, I substitute a dash of cinnamon and allspice for the mint.

No matter how you build this salad, it has a variety of opposing tastes and textures that make it a delightful stand-alone meal. The crunch of nuts and the firmness of the chickpeas contrast well with the slightly softer texture of the corn kernels and the velvety texture of the cooked rice. The tartness of the fruit and lemon juice dressing gives a wonderful contrast to the natural sweetness of the cooked onions and carrots.

So, celebrate summer with a cool rice salad!

You’ll need:

(Note: My substitutions and suggestions follow the or indicator.)

3 TBS olive oil

1 large, sweet onion finely chopped

1 carrot in small dice

1 rib of celery in small dice

1 ½ C long-grain white rice, uncooked

3 C hot water

salt and fresh-ground pepper

1 tsp dried mint or ½ tsp each allspice and cinnamon

1 tsp dried dill or ½ tsp ground cardamom

1 C cooked (or canned) chickpeas, drained

1 C cooked or canned sweet corn

1 lb sliced peaches (or 2 drained cans Mandarin oranges)

2 TBS lemon juice or lime juice

3 TBS minced chives or scallion tops

½ C roasted sliced almonds, or roasted sunflower seeds, or pine nuts


Heat about 2 TBS of oil in a large, deep (covered) skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for about 8 minutes, or until golden. Remove half of the onion and add the remaining oil and the diced carrot and celery, sauté for another minute over medium-low heat. Add the long-grain rice, stirring it to ensure it becomes evenly coated. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until the rice turns milky opaque. Add the hot water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for about 18 minutes or until rice is tender.

Fluff the rice with a fork and remove from the heat. Gently fold in the reserved onions, corn, chickpeas, mint and dill (or other spices). Allow to completely cool. Dice the peach slices and gently toss them into the rice mixture or add drained Mandarin oranges. Drizzle with lemon or lime juice, generously scatter nuts or seed on top and then garnish chives or minced green onion tops.

 Serve at room temperature. This dish is extremely satisfying and the amount made will feed about six hungry people.


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