Fennel-Raisin Orzo Pilaf

Confession: Often when I’m uninspired, I just combine whatever I have left in my kitchen, and hope for the best.

Sometimes this leads to disaster, but sometimes, as in this case, it leads to something delicious.

Fennel-Raisin Orzo Pilaf

Serves 4 as a side

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 large fennel bulb (stalks discarded)
  • 1/4 cup slivered or coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1/2 cup chopped herbs (I used mint. Cilantro is also recommended.)

Slice fennel into 1/4 inch thick pieces.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then sauté fennel, onion, salt, and pepper until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in almonds, raisins, coriander, and saffron and sauté until raisins start to plump, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4-6 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Add orzo and cook about 9 minutes, until al dente.  Drain orzo.

Combine the orzo, fennel mixture, and half the chopped herbs.  Top with the remaining herbs just before serving at room temperature.

I ended up eating this as a light dinner, and saved the leftovers for lunches.  It would also be a great side for a meat dish.  I’m pleased to say that I will be making this “clean the icebox” style dish again.

I have also come to the realization that I need to cook with fennel more.  It is so tasty!  Let me know if you have any special fennel dishes.

Happy Eating!


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