persian-broad-bean-pilaf

Regular readers must be getting bored of my enthusiastic – and prolonged – welcome to this cherry blossom season, with recipe after recipe showcasing greens, asparagus, broad beans (and in forthcoming weeks, also peas, artichokes and other seasonal vegetables) on this site. But it still feels like such a novelty after the freezing winter we’ve had in the UK for so long, and the cooking really is different this time of the year. It’s lighter, more fun and frivolous, more visual, and more colour-oriented.

I’ve been meaning to share this great-tasting recipe ever since I started this blog last autumn, but I was just waiting for the right weather: this dish just doesn’t taste the same any other time of the year. It’s the vivid orange and green colours, the lively ingredients, and the simple, fuss-free flavours that make this easy-to-prepare rice such a quintessentially springtime dish.

You can serve the rice as an accompaniment – but when it tastes so good, why let it share the limelight with another dish? Serves 4.

8 oz/ 200g white Iranian or Indian basmati rice
10oz/ 250g fresh broad beans (or mixture of broad beans, peas and runner beans)
Salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 oz/ 50g butter
1 large onion, trimmed, peeled and finely sliced
½ teaspoon powdered saffron

Optional garnish 1 (herb omelette):
1 large organic free range egg
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, tarragon, or mint – or a mixture
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

OR

Optional garnish 2 (herbed yoghurt):
8 tablespoons thick creamy yoghurt
1 heaped tablespoon fresh dill sprigs, roughly torn
Salt and pepper

1.    Wash and rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Soak it for half an hour or so in barely enough water to cover it.
2.    Then add a little more water to the rice – enough to cover it up to an inch. Add salt. Cook the rice for 20 minutes until tender. This is the absorption method, and for best results the rice must not be disturbed whilst cooking. Keeping the lid on, set the cooked rice aside for 10 minutes.
3.    Then remove the lid, place the container of rice in a bowl of iced water, and let it cool thoroughly – the longer you leave the rice to cool, the better will be the texture of this recipe. Hours, rather than minutes, is what I am suggesting. . (Alternatively, use 1lb/ 500g cooked leftover rice!).
4.    Meanwhile, shell and steam the broad beans (and other vegetables, if using) for about 5 minutes until tender. (Check by crushing a couple of beans between your fingers). Cool the beans a little, and skin them if you have the time.
5.    When ready to cook, heat the oil and butter together in a saucepan, and sauté the onion for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add the cooled rice, saffron, and more salt if needed. Stir gently so that the grains of rice don’t break or go mushy.
6.    Add the cooked broad beans. (Also add cooked peas and sliced runner beans if using). Adjust the seasoning.
7.    For optional garnish 1: Beat together the egg with the herbs and seasoning. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and make an omelette. Let the omelette cool a little, then roll it up tightly and finely shred. For optional garnish 2: Mix together the yoghurt with dill and seasoning.
8.    Serve the rice hot with either one of the garnishes. Although the garnishes are optional, they enhance this dish and bring out its flavour to full effect.

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