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Herb & Citrus-Scented Rice

This recipe riffs on the rice pilaf my mother made when I was a kid. She caramelized onions and garlic, then added water with chicken bouillon to basmati rice and let it simmer away, covered until the magic moment when the lid could be removed. This version is delicate and uses simply water to plump the rice. Fresh spring herbs, citrus zest, cardamom, and currants enliven it. I like it alongside crispy-skin seared salmon with roasted available vegetables, and I can easily envision it wrapped inside tubes of pickled grape leaves with a dessert of fresh pecan baklava drenched in orange blossom syrup. In front of me now is a bowl of this rice plus a few olives from Good Faith Farm; I am perfectly satisfied.
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword: citrus, pecan, rice, vegetarian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Kala Riddle


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 10 cardamom pods green husks removed, smashed in a mortar & pestle
  • 1 cup Sac Valley Rice Fresh California Japonica soaked in water overnight
  • 2 cups water
  • teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Zest from 2 Meyer lemons
  • Juice from 1 Meyer lemon
  • Zest from 2 Valencia oranges
  • ¼ cup currants
  • ½ cup pecans toasted & chopped
  • Big glug of olive oil
  • Maldon salt to taste


  • Rinse the soaked rice until the water runs clear and drain in a colander. In a medium-sized pot, add the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and garlic, cooking until slightly caramelized and softened. Add the cardamom and drained rice, stirring to coat in the oil. Add water and bring the mixture to a boil, then add salt, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer until the water is absorbed, about 60 minutes. Turn off the heat without lifting the lid and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
  • Chop the parsley and fresh thyme leaves and add to the hot rice. Mix in the citrus zest, currants, and toasted pecans. Finish it off with a glug of olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice, and Maldon sprinkling before tossing it all to combine.