Meatless Monday: Savory Basmati Rice with Toasted Hazelnuts


If I have learned anything from this blog it is to be brave and bold.  It has given me the courage to try new things and discover new solutions.  One thing that I love and truly enjoy is putting my thinking cap on and coming up with combinations of ingredients that are not only pleasing to the palate but also to the eyes.  This can be challenging at times, but there are a lot of things that can make an ordinary dish really sing.  I especially love using fresh herbs and whole spices in many of the dishes I make.  Even if I am following a recipe from a book, I love to add fresh herbs when it calls for dried.  Fresh herbs and spices can elevate any common ingredient in a dish, making it wonderfully delicious and gourmet.  Plus the best thing for the cook is that using fresh herbs takes very little effort but the payout is amazing.  Some of my favorite fresh herbs are thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and chives.

It should be no secret by now that I also love rice.  I especially love this rice dish that I am sharing on another meatless monday installment, a savory preparation made with basmati rice.  The first time I made this recipe (in fact another monday not so long ago) I used it as a stuffing for roasted acorn squash and it was divine. Today I am making it for the second time and for tonights dinner plan on serving it as the vehicle for a mushroom and leek ragú.   What makes this rice dish special in my opinion is the combination of flavors.  While the recipe is vegan it is hearty and complex, proving that a dish need not be loaded with sausage to have the same flavors.  I accomplished incorporating these robust, earthy and sultry flavors though the use of a variety of spices, herbs, and techniques.  Toasted whole cumin, crushed fennel seed, and caramelized onions along with fresh thyme adds to the earthy, fragrant, herbaceous vibe the dish has. Toasted hazelnuts lend more texture, color, and a soft nuttiness to the dish.  I truly feel this is an excellent rice dish that will satisfy herbivores and carnivores alike.  Give it a try and leave me a comment below telling me what you think!



                  Savory Basmati Rice with Toasted Hazelnuts
This recipe is great and very versatile. It can be eaten on its own, used as a side for a variety of items and sauces, or as a stuffing for vegetables such as various squash or portabella mushrooms. It is an excellent dish also due to the fact that it can be prepared a day or two ahead and reheated later. I love it reheated in a worn iron skillet with some added olive oil. It becomes very nice after heating up this way, making the rice lightly toasted and a little crunchy. Yummy!
Recipe by:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seed
  • 1½ tsp whole fennel seed
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 1½ cup basmati rice
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2¼ cup boiling water
  • kosher salt
  1. In large saucepan add 1 Tbsp olive oil and heat over medium heat.
  2. In separate pan bring water to boil.
  3. Finely dice onion and add to saucepan seasoning with salt, cooking until translucent about 7 minutes.
  4. In the meantime coarsely chop hazelnuts and place in dry pan over low heat toasting for 5 minutes.
  5. While nuts toast and onions are cooking, lightly crush fennel seed in mortar and pestle.
  6. Add whole cumin seed and crushed fennel seed to onions. Cook for approximately 5 minutes more until onions are lightly caramelized.
  7. Add rice, toasted hazelnuts and fresh thyme to pan and stir coating with oil, onions, and spices. Toast rice for a few minutes more.
  8. Add 2¼ cups boiling water to rice and cover with tight fitting lid. Place over smallest burner on stovetop at lowest setting and set timer for 15 minutes.
  9. After 15 minutes have past, remove lid from pan, cover with tea towel and replace tight fitting lid.
  10. Let set for 10 minutes.
  11. Fluff with fork and serve as desired.


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