When you’ve had enough of the Roast Potatoes and need a new and exciting side dish, Festive Pilaf is just the right dish to make! Baked rice laced with leeks and sweet pears, studded with cranberries and toasted pecan nuts is the ultimate Christmas Rice side dish. All you need to do is mix everything together and bake for 35 minutes in the oven! Delicious!
We have been experimenting with various rice dishes, primarily to go with our Christmas Chicken recipe. And this Festive Pilaf is just perfect! Simple to make, with just the right balance of Christmas spices and fruit, this is an amazing celebratory rice side dish, whether made on Christmas day, Boxing day or the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Pilaf is just a fancy name for rice cooked in stock or broth with added spices, vegetables and other ingredients. The signature of a good pilaf is each of the rice grains being separate when cooked, as opposed to porridge-like (like arborio rice) or stuck together (like sticky rice).
There are so many different rice varieties, each with their different appearance, texture and cooking time. For the pilaf, I’d recommend using basmati rice. It has great texture when cooked, grains do not adhere to each other and can easily be fluffed up with a fork. Another one, that works just as well is Jasmine rice. But because of the rather strong aroma, it depends on what other ingredients you’re cooking your pilaf with.
How to Make our Christmas Rice Side Dish?
To start, place your rice in a colander and run some cold water through it. By doing so, you will get rid of some of the starch coating the grains, meaning your rice will be nice and fluffy when cooked. Set aside, whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 180° C Fan. Wash and thinly slice a small leek. Then core and peel a pear. Chop into small pieces.
In an ovenproof dish, mix the rice, leeks, pear, dried cranberries and nutmeg. Add a cinnamon stick.
Dissolve a vegetable stock cube and 20g of butter in about 500 ml of water (or just slightly more than to cover the rice). Pour the stock over the rice, stir briefly, then cover with a large piece of foil. Tuck it right under so not much steam can escape whilst cooking. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
In the meantime, chop the pecans roughly and lightly toast them in a dry frying pan. Finely chop your parsley.
Before taking to the table, fluff the rice up with a fork. Sprinkle the toasted pecans and parsley on top.
For an ultimate ‘Christmas experience on a plate’, serve this Festive Pilaf with our Christmas Chicken.
We hope you like our recipes as much as we like them. For other innovative Christmas side dish ideas, have a look at:
- Balsamic-Glazed Red Cabbage Steaks | A Perfect Christmas Dinner Side
- Rosemary Scented Christmas Pommes Anna – An Alternative to Roast Potatoes
- Plum and Red Onion Chutney – for that Christmas Cheeseboard
Festive Pilaf | Christmas Rice Side Dish
- 250 g basmati rice
- 1 vegetable stock cube + 500ml of boiling water
- 20 g unsalted butter
- 1 small leek thinly sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 50 g dried cranberries
- 1 pear cored, peeled and cubed
- 50 g pecan nuts roughly chopped
- a small bunch of parsley finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan.
- Place rice in a colander and run cold water through it to remove the starch coating.
- In an ovenproof dish, mix the rinsed rice, sliced leeks, pears, dried cranberries and nutmeg together. Add a cinnamon stick.
- Dissolve a stock cube and butter in 500ml of boiling water (enough to cover the rice plus 0.5cm on top). Stir everything briefly, then cover with a large sheet of foil. Tuck the foil right under so not much steam can escape.
- Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
- In the meantime, roughly chop the pecan nuts and lightly toast in a dry frying pan. Chop your parsley finely.
- Fluff the rice up with a fork, sprinkle with toasted pecans and parsley and serve! We love this side with our Christmas Chicken (recipe available from 11th of December at https://somebodyfeedseb.com/christmas-chicken).