This rice pilaf is pretty hard to screw up, but here are a few pearls of wisdom so you can make it perfectly: 1) Ground spices burn quickly, so be sure to only let them bloom for 30 seconds before adding the onion and garlic. 2) Make sure the chickpeas are very dry before putting them into the oven, as this is crucial to achieving a crispy texture. 3) While putting a kitchen towel over a pot of rice might seem like an annoying extra step, know that it’s the best way to ensure the rice will be extra fluffy. —Rebecca Firkser
1 hour 15 minutes
4 to 6
(15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes
medium yellow onion, finely chopped
garlic cloves, finely chopped
long-grain rice, like basmati or jasmine, well-rinsed
English peas (frozen or freshly shelled)
dried sour cherries
scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
mixed tender herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, basil, and mint, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Toss cashews with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a big pinch of salt on a sheet pan and toast until deeply golden, tossing halfway through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool and increase oven temperature to 425°F.
Dry chickpeas well on kitchen towels. Spread on the sheet pan and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Bake until crispy, tossing halfway through, 25 to 35 minutes (the drier the chickpeas were when they went into the oven, the crispier they’ll get). Set aside.
While chickpeas bake, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Combine red pepper flakes, paprika, cumin, and turmeric in a small bowl, then stir into the hot oil. Let bloom for 30 seconds. Add onion and garlic, season with salt, and cook for 5 minutes, until the onions are soft. Add the rice, stirring often, and cook until the grains just being to toast, about 5 minutes.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups water and another good pinch of salt, making sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Let rice cook for 12 minutes. Uncover the pot, remove from heat, and stir in the peas. Cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel, replace the lid, and let rice steam for 5 to 10 minutes.
Crush the cashews and stir half of them into the rice along with chickpeas, sour cherries, and half the scallions. To serve, pour rice into a shallow serving dish and top with herbs, and remaining cashews and scallions.
Rebecca Firkser is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, among them Food52, TASTE, Edible Manhattan, Extra Crispy, The Strategist, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl.