This side dish is a great accompaniment to poultry, from a simple roasted turkey or chicken to more elaborate Middle Eastern Jewish favorites such as fesenjan (an Iranian stew made with pomegranates). It also is delicious with brisket and other braised beef recipes.
POMEGRANATE-APRICOT BROWN RICE
(Recipe by Jayne Cohen, author of "Jewish Holiday Cooking," Wiley, 2008)
2 cups brown basmati rice
3 cups pomegranate juice,divided
2 cups cold water
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped dried apricots (preferably Californian or Pacific)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 to 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 to 1 cup pomegranate seeds
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish(optional)
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place the rice in a mesh strainer and rinse well under cold water. Drain, then transfer the rice to a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.
3. Add 2 cups of the pomegranate juice, the water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Mix, then cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the apricots with enough warm water to cover. Set aside to soak.
5. In a large heavy skillet over medium-high, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the onions, sprinkle them lightly with salt, then saute until the onions are tender and golden. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the pomegranate molasses and the remaining 1 cup pomegranate juice.
6. Increase heat to high, and boil, uncovered and stirring, until all the liquid is evaporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning (it may take quite a bit of salt), adding more pomegranate molasses if desired.
7. Drain the apricots (discarding the liquid), and stir them and the cinnamon in to the onions. Cook for another few minutes, stirring often, to blend the flavors. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside until the rice is cooked.
8. When the rice is done, lower the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the rice and toss gently. Add the onion-apricot mixture and toss to combine. Cover the pan with foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.
9. Fluff the rice with a fork, scatter the pomegranate seeds over the top, and garnish with cilantro, if using.