It is appropriate to close the summer with a post that celebrates the fruits (or vegetables) of the season’s labor. For the first time in our lives, Day and I, but mostly Day, I am just the cook, grew, and harvested food! The operation was neither fancy nor significant in terms of the amount of food produced. It wasn’t labor intensive either. The plants and the sun did all the work for us to enjoy shallots, cilantro, lettuces, and, hopefully soon, carrots. Sure, it was amazing to see beautiful plants grow out of nothing within a mere weeks, but the shallots mostly impressed me. Who knew? You take a shallot, plant it, and let it multiply into several shallots you can replant and re-reproduce. It is nothing short of amazing.
This recipe was originally made using one of the plenty shallots we grew over the summer. My parents were in town visiting for the first time since we moved here. We wanted to celebrate their departure with something familiar, yet local, and unique. We went to the farmers market together, to forage what we would make for dinner. Lettuce, vegetables, chicken, and herbs filled our bags quickly with just enough room for a couple of treats.
The menu called for grilled eggplant, a rice dish of sorts, a huge Florida avocado, and grilled chicken, with an awesome chimichurri sauce on the side. Everything was easy, relaxed, and required minimal preparation. It was the perfect summer meal!
While the chicken marinated, and the chimichurri sauce was being made, I whipped up the rice dish using ingredients I had laying around in the pantry: chickpeas, cashews, spices, and brown rice. Because the rest of the components of the meal were simple, I wanted the rice to stand out. It needed to be special, without being stuffy or pretentious. It needed to be robust and hearty, to stand up to the rest of the components of the meal without being too heavy.
The shallots melted into a beautiful caramelized concoction of flavors that was to die for. Coconut oil, coriander and cumin infused the kitchen. It was almost intoxicating, but in a good way. The final result was delicious to say the least! Each bite is balanced: crunchy cashews, fresh cilantro, chewy rice, and meaty chickpeas. Everything infused with a hearty aroma of cumin and coriander.
Nutty Shallot Pilaf
Prep/Cook Time 45 minutes
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 shallots, sliced thin
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- Pinch of salt
- 1 16 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup brown basmati rice
- ¼ cup raw cashews
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth, or water
- 1 handful cilantro
- ¼ cup roasted cashews
Place a pot over medium heat. Add coconut oil, sliced shallots, cumin, coriander and salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shallots become translucent and aromatic. Adjust heat as necessary; you don’t want the spices to burn! Add chickpeas, rice, and cashews. Stir. Cook for a minute, and then add vegetable broth. Cook rice uncovered for ten minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 25 -30 minutes. Do not uncover or stir during this time. Rice likes to be left alone; otherwise it will become mushy and unappetizing. After 25 minutes have passed, remove from heat and fluff with fork. Add chopped cilantro and roasted cashes. Serve hot with salad, grilled vegetables, or meat. This pilaf can be eaten as a main dish as well. It is full of good carbohydrates, protein, and fat, which will keep you feeling full and energized.