It’s Christmas time and that means one thing to most Brazilians – it’s raisins time! Whether people love it or not, it’s tradition in Brazil to add dried fruits (and nuts) to right about anything during our Holiday Season, or as we call it, Festas de Fim de Ano (End of the Year Parties, if translated). Seriously, there is no Festas at this time of the year without them. You’ll find dried apricot in salads, dates in the roasts, raisins in the farofa, in the rice, and everywhere!
The consumption of dried fruits has been a thing amongst humans since like forever ago, especially in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. These early civilizations noticed that the fruits that had dried from the hot sun, were not only edible, but had an extended shelf life AND were also a great source of energy, making them a hit amongst travelers and warriors.
In the Roman Empire, dried fruits and nuts were so valued that not only they mixed them in many of their foods, but they were also used as barter currency, as rewards, and even as gifts during special celebrations as a symbol of prosperity. These customs traveled through time, and across the globe all the way to Brazil, and today dried fruits, especially raisins, remain one of our biggest symbols of prosperity during the holiday season.
For this recipe, in addition to the raisins of prosperity, I’ve decided to use champagne to keep things even more festive, and add cashews for texture and to keep things super Brazilian. It’s delicious!
I simply cannot live through the holidays without dried fruits and nuts showing up somewhere on the menu. They are a must in my family! What about you? Does your family/culture have a holiday tradition? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Bom Apetite & Feliz Natal!!
Champagne Rice with Raisins and Cashews
This rice is super easy and it follows most of the same guidelines of the basic rice recipe I shared in this post here.
For this rice, we want to soak the raisins in about a 1/2 cup of champagne, and let them hang out there getting tipsy for about an hour or so. Meanwhile, you can do some super quick prep, which means you’re gonna have time to get tipsy too.
When you’re all prep’d up, start by heating up some olive oil, then sauté the onions.
When they are soft, add the garlic.
And cook it until the garlic is fragrant.
Then, add the rice and some salt.
And throw the champagne in there – wooooo, party time!!!
Let it reduce pretty much all the way.
See? All gone!
Now add the water.
Let it boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cover, just like we talked about here. While the rice is cooking, drain the raisins.
When the rice is cooked through…
Turn off the heat and add the tipsy raisins there and cover immediately. When you’re about ready to serve, add the cashews, stir and done!
Making a Rice Wreath for a Festive Look
To make a wreath, just place the warm rice on your serving plate of choice while it is still warm. Then, with clean hands, just shape it like a donut. Add some rosemary around it, a couple of cherry tomatoes and pronto! A rice wreath for the holidays!
Make it! Take a picture and share your rice wreath with me on Instagram by tagging me or using #cookingwithaline
Bom Apetite & Feliz Natal!!