Bring a delicious but unexpected side dish to your table by making this Thanksgiving Rice Pilaf with Cranberries & Pears. This brown rice and wild rice pilaf is packed with fruit, nuts and herbs for the perfect balance of savory and sweet.
I’ve probably mentioned before that my real-life Thanksgiving dinner is actually quite small. My husband and I are both only children, meaning that between us and our parents, our entire immediate family is just six people.
It makes Thanksgiving dinner a very low-stress meal to host, because cooking for six doesn’t require shuffling dozens of pans and casserole dishes into the oven. On the the other hand, it also makes it impractical to prepare a HUGE feast – there’d just be way too many leftovers to deal with, and food waste bums me out.
So, in real life, I stick to just the basics for our party of six – which is usually turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (or some years, even two small dishes of different kinds of stuffing, if i’m feeling wild), cranberries, rolls and green beans or brussels sprouts.
Sometimes a salad, although it’s honestly not necessary. But this blog is where I kind of live out my Thanksgiving FEAST fantasies. Here, I get to create and share all of those “other” side dishes that aren’t needed at my small table, but would be perfect for a larger gathering where more options are welcomed.
Enter this Thanksgiving Rice Pilaf with Cranberries & Pears.
About this Thanksgiving Rice Pilaf with Cranberries & Pears:
- The liquid for this pilaf is a combination of chicken broth and apple juice, for a sweet-savory combo. Apple cider works great, too!
- This pilaf is made using the classic technique I learned in culinary school – sautéing aromatics (shallots, carrots, mushrooms) in butter on the stovetop, adding the rice, liquid and other ingredients and bringing to a boil, then transferring to the oven to complete the cooking process.
- The pears in this recipe almost “melt” into the pilaf, infusing the dish with a sweet fall flavor. If you’d prefer firmer chunks of pear, feel free to stir them in at the end of the cooking time instead (when you stir in the walnuts and parsley).
Psst – if you have extra rosemary (you will!) – try out something new with my lemon and bourbon sour rosemary cocktail.
- 2-1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup apple juice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 box (8 ounces) button mushrooms, sliced
- 1-1/4 cups brown rice
- 3/4 cup wild rice
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pear, diced
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In medium saucepot, heat broth and juice over medium heat until simmering.
- Meanwhile, heat butter in high-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add carrots and shallots and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; cook 7 to 8 minutes or until mushrooms are browned, stirring occasionally.
- Add brown rice and wild rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in thyme, bay leaf, pear, rosemary, cranberries, salt, pepper and broth mixture.
- Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, then cover and transfer to oven. Bake 50 minutes or until most liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
- Remove from oven; remove lid and let stand 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and herb sprigs. Stir in walnuts and parsley and serve immediately.
Other delicious Thanksgiving side dishes:
- Crockpot Green Bean Casserole – with fresh green beans and no canned soup!
- Really Good Thanksgiving Salad – if I serve a salad, this is the one!
- Hard Cider Cranberry Sauce – my go-to recipe the past few years.
- Aged Cheddar Mashed Potatoes – because why make plain mashed potatoes when you can make cheesy ones?
- Roasted Acorn Squash with Pomegranate & Parsley – this might be the prettiest dish on your table!
- Lentil & Mushroom Stuffing – a gluten free alternative to bread dressing.
- Creamy Green Bean Casserole from Scratch by Sally’s Baking Addiction
- Roasted Carrots with Honey & Garlic by Carlsbad Cravings