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Persian Rice Pilaf with Raisins, Mint, and Pine Nuts
Persian Rice Pilaf with Raisins, Mint, and Pine Nuts

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup long-grain rice
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup pine nuts
a 6-ounce tomato, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint plus whole leaves for garnish

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over moderate heat.  Add the onion, and cook until it starts to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add the rice, the raisins, the saffron and the salt, and mix well.  cook for 3 minutes, and add the water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stir with a fork, then reduce heat to low.  Cover tightly, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked and completely dry.
3.  While the rice is simmering, spread the pine nuts out in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they have turned golden brown.  remove and cool.
4.  When the rice is done, pass a fork through it to separate the grains.  Let it cool for a few minutes.  when ready to serve, combine it with the pine nuts, the chopped tomato, the 1/4 cup chopped mint, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil (use less if desired).  Place on a platter and garnish with whole mint leaves.

This is not a traditional Iranian dish-but it is a delicious one that captures the essence of that cuisine. It makes a fabulous accompaniment to shish kebab or any kind of grilled or roast lamb. Serves 4 as a side dish