Courtesy of Hilary Meltzer
I had this lovely rice dish a month ago at my friend Hilary's dinner party. Hilary calls this "Christmas Dish" because of the beautiful red and green colors. I thought it was so inventive and pleasurable to eat - the sweet and tangy pomegranate seeds burst in your mouth, the green onions are fresh and savory, the wild rice is nutty and chewy, and the pistachios are buttery and crunchy - as well as beautiful and festive to look at. I also love that the flavors are interesting and complementary but the overall effect is quite mild and will go with whatever meat roasts or fowl you choose to serve on Christmas. I also love that this dish is equally good warm as it is room temperature as a rice salad. The perfect no-fuss buffet side.
For 6 cups of rice, enough to feed a holiday army, or about 8-10 people as a side, you will need:
2 cups wild rice, rinsed and drained. I tried mixing in brown rice, as wild rice can be expensive, and the result was mushy and not nearly as good.
About 5 1/2 cups of water or chicken broth.
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Seeds from 1-2 pomegranates. Depending on size, you'll get about 1 1/2 cups of seeds per fruit. Remove the seeds by using a sharp paring knife to score the skin - don't cut into the fruit - then gently peel the skin off to reveal the pockets of ruby seeds inside. If you try to cut the pomegranate in half, you'll ruin the seeds along the cut.
2/3 to 1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts, toasted. In a dry pan over low heat, gently toast the nuts until they turn light brown where they touch the pan. Toss the pan frequently to prevent burning. Watch very closely - this will only take a few minutes, and they go from perfect to burnt in a few seconds. Toasting brings out their warm nutty flavor and is worth the effort.
Green parts of 1 bunch of scallions, about 5 onions, chopped. I only use the milder, green parts because the white parts are more onion-y and can overpower the delicate flavors of the rice and nuts.
2 tablespoons really good olive oil. Try to find one that has a rich, green, fruity flavor. If you serve the dish warm, you can use butter instead. Butter congeals at room temperature, so I'd recommend the olive oil if you plan to serve this as a salad.
In a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan with a lid, bring the water or broth, salt, and rice to a boil. Immediately reduce to very low heat, put the lid on, and cook for about 45-60 minutes. Taste after 45 - if you like a chewy, firm texture, it's done. If you prefer rice that's a little softer, allow to cook for a few more minutes. 50 minutes was perfect for me. Remove from heat - if there's extra water in the pan, drain the rice in a fine colander or sieve. Put the rice in a large bowl and stir in the olive oil, pomegranate seeds, onions, and nuts. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary.