The first sit-down restaurant experience that I remember was of Morrison’s Cafeteria in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. Back in the seventies, the waiters at Morrison’s still wore tuxedo-like uniforms and carried your tray to your table. My seven- or eight-year-old self was impressed beyond belief not just with the waiters but with the seemingly endless variety of foods one could choose. My first meal at Morrison’s included rice pilaf and I never forgot it.
My take on rice pilaf tends toward more aromatic flavors. Most rice dishes of south Louisiana, with their robust and spicy natures, tend to shout. Rice pilaf, however, should speak softly and distinctly. It is one of the few dishes I’ve ever cooked that include cinnamon in a savory capacity. My house smells so good afterward! Using jasmine rice for this dish makes for perfectly soft and separate grains.
What I used:
2 TBSP sliced almonds
2 TBSP butter
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped
1 TBSP garlic, finely chopped
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp celery seed
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 TBSP fresh parsley, finely chopped
What I did:
- In a large skillet or sauce pan, toast almond slices over medium heat for about 2-4 minutes, tossing constantly to avoid burning. Remove from heat once toasted on one side and set aside.
- In same pan, melt butter over medium heat and add onion, carrot and garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper, stirring constantly to avoid burning and cooking until onion is translucent.
- Add allspice, cinnamon and celery seed and stir well, about a minute. Add rice, stirring constantly, and cook until most grains are translucent.
- Add stock, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and let sit about 5-10 minutes. Fluff rice, and stir in half the toasted almonds and 3/4 of the parsley.
- Top with remaining almonds and parsley.