One of my favorite side dishes is this Herb Cranberry Rice Pilaf. Bursting with flavors from the vegetables and seasonings, it is gluten-free and you can easily make it vegetarian or vegan. It is perfect for your friends and family with dietary restrictions. Delicious and filling, this is a winner of a recipe!
With the growing incidence of gluten-intolerance issues, the likelihood is higher that you will have someone at your table that needs gluten-free options to eat. I created a beautiful rice dish that makes a great gluten-free side dish and can easily be adjusted for either vegetarian or vegan options if needed.
If you think you cannot make rice without a rice maker, you need to try a pilaf. Pilafs are very flavorful and easy to make. The main trick is to coat all the rice grains with the oil before adding the liquids. This helps keep the grains separate and avoids clumping. Building a full-bodied sofrito (a combination of aromatics and seasonings) will give your final dish a satisfying bold flavor that will have people asking for seconds.
When I am planning my holiday or party meals, I try to prepare some interesting side dishes to go alongside the main course. If you have people with dietary restrictions joining you, it can be the perfect excuse to make a few new dishes.
If serving gluten-free folks scares you don’t worry, it isn’t too complicated. Basically, they cannot eat anything with wheat, rye or barley in it. That includes flour, bread, breadcrumbs, most cereals and soy sauce and other Asian sauces among many things. The main course, mashed potatoes, and most vegetables are naturally gluten free. You can easily make gravy gluten-free by using cornstarch instead of flour as your thickening agent. Trust me, if you provide food that is safe for your gluten-free guests to enjoy, they will be thrilled!
I hope you like this Herb Cranberry Rice Pilaf as much as The Artist and I do. It is such a great dish that can be changed up easily by choosing a different fruit (or leave it out) and swap out the herbs to others that you love. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Key Ingredients for Herb Cranberry Rice Pilaf:
- Dried sweetened cranberries, white wine or dry vermouth
- Butter, onion, carrots, celery, bell peppers, thyme, parsley
- Rice, chicken or vegetable stock, chives
Why do I need to coat the rice with oil?
This helps keep the grains separated as they cook and avoid clumping.
Whenever you are using the oven in a recipe, once you pull the pan out of the oven drape a kitchen towel or hot pad over the screaming hot handle. This will help remind you that the pan is hot and to handle with care so you don’t burn yourself.
How to make Herb Cranberry Rice Pilaf:
- Steep the cranberries in hot water and wine; sauté the vegetables until softened, then stir in the rice and stir until completely coated with the oil and butter until lightly golden
- Add the stock and wine, season with salt and pepper; cover with a lid and bake 25 to 35 minutes at 350°F until liquids are absorbed; remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes to finish cooking
- Fluff the rice, stir in the drained cranberries; garnish with chopped chives and serve
Be sure you use an oven-proof skillet to sauté the vegetables because you will be finishing the rice in the oven. Watch that the handle, in particular, is safe too!
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Make sure the stock you use is gluten-free or use your own homemade broth. Plain rice is naturally gluten-free, but you want to avoid most rice blends because they can have cross-contamination issues.
- 1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth (or more water)
- 2 tbsp organic olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter (or more olive oil for vegan)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 tsp chopped parsley
- 2 cups long-grain or medium-grain white rice
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (look for gluten-free varieties)
- 1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth (or use more stock or water)
- 1 to 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black or white pepper
- Minced chives, for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the cranberries in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot water and wine over the top. Set aside to steep and rehydrate the cranberries.
- In an ovenproof deep skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat, stirring until melted. Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until onions are softened and turning translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir until each grain is completely coated with the butter and oil. If there are any dry areas, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in the herbs. Toss the rice often, cooking until the grains start to turn lightly golden in color and are evenly coated with the butter and/or oil.
- Add the chicken stock and white wine to the rice, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir until the rice is evenly distributed in the pan. Cover pan with the lid and place in the hot oven.
- Bake for 25 to 35 minutes (or according to package directions), or until liquids have been absorbed. To test, drag a wooden spoon through the rice creating a “channel”. If a lot of liquid flows into the channel, push the rice back into a single layer, cover, and cook a little longer. When there is almost no liquid in the channel, remove pan from the oven and set on stove, covered.* Let rest for 10 minutes to finish cooking and allow the rice to absorb the last of the liquid.
- Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a couple of forks, separating the grains. Strain the cranberries (discard the liquid) and add them to the rice. Toss everything together, taste and add more salt or pepper if needed. Transfer rice to a warmed serving bowl, garnish with the minced chives and serve hot.
- * Always hang a kitchen towel or hot pad over the hot handle of the pan to avoid burning yourself.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 195Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 590mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 8g
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