Three Grain Pilaf

I love, love, love, love, LOVE this recipe. I originally cut it out of an issue of Oprah’s magazine and it’s been stuck in my recipe book for a long time. I have no idea what issue I cut it out of, but I know it was at least two years ago. I’ve made this recipe many, many times and I think this is the recipe that began my love for dried cranberries.

I love this recipe because it’s simple and wholesome. It’s made from scratch and uses all-natural ingredients. It makes a large amount and is good for leftovers. It’s easily adaptable as well.

Three-Grain Pilaf
Makes 6 servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
¾ cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth (canned or make your own)
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
¾ tsp salt
½ cup barley, rinsed and drained
½ cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Pinch freshly ground pepper

A few notes on the ingredients: I buy my rice at barley at my health food store where I can get it out of the bulk bins. That way I can buy just the right amount. I have also made this recipe before without the parsley and I frequently make it without the lemon zest. It’s not quite as flavorful without these ingredients, but I still think it tastes great. Finally I use a teaspoon or two of dried thyme when I don’t have any fresh on hand and that seems to work out just fine.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add wild rice and 3 cups of broth; bring to a boil. Stir in brown rice, thyme, bay leaf, and ¼ tsp salt; return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until rice is tender and broth is absorbed. Add remaining ½ cup broth if needed.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt and barley. Reduce heat and simmer until barley is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain. Stir barley and cranberries into rice; cover and cook 5-10 minutes to plump cranberries. Remove and discard thyme and bay leaf. With a fork, stir in parsley, lemon zest and pepper.

The hardest part about this recipe is the timing. You have to time the barley so that it is done cooking when the rice is ready. You don’t want to overcook the barley because it will get sticky and chewy. You don’t want to overcook the rice because it will get dry. If anything, the barley should be finished cooking first. That way you can drain it and leave it in the strainer in the sink while the rice is finishing up. It will get hot again once you stir it into the rice mixture and by taking it off the heat you won’t overcook it.

So is it worth it? This recipe does take a long time from start to finish, so it’s definitely not something I make weekly. I like to make this on a Saturday or Sunday when I have a bit more time to prepare dinner. The flavor is terrific though and I think that’s what makes it totally worth it. That and it’s pretty healthy too!

I love walnuts and cranberries together and I have added toasted walnuts to this recipe before. To toast walnuts, heat up a small skillet over medium high heat with a tablespoon or so of oil or butter. Toss in walnuts and stir around in the oil or melted butter for about 5 minutes or until you can smell the aroma of the toasted walnuts. Stir into the rice with the barley and cranberries.

Pair this rice with baked fish or chicken and a nice green salad and voila! You have dinner! Enjoy!


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