Riverford Wicked Leeks
Kale, fruit and nut pilaf recipe image

Print Kale, fruit and nut pilaf

The kale and cranberries give this spiced rice dish a Christmassy colouring so it’s a good one to serve as a healthy meal among all the rich food around. If you’ve got a large, deep frying pan and want to double the quantities to serve 4, then it should fit, otherwise use a large heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole dish. Red Russian and curly kale (leaves stripped from tougher stalks) work best here. It can be made with cavolo nero, but in that case it’s best to boil the leaves, refresh, chop and add them at the end of cooking.


  • 150g brown basmati rice
  • Oil for frying, e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1½ tsp garam masala
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 50g raisins
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 200g red Russian or curly kale, chopped if the leaves are large
  • 50g chopped nuts (e.g. hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds or walnuts), toasted (see tip)
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Put the rice in a bowl of cold water to soak. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, deep frying pan or wide saucepan. Add the onion and fry on a low heat for 10–15 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. If it looks like catching at any point, add a splash of water.
  2. Drain the rice and add to the onion with the garam masala, then stir. Add the wine and simmer until it’s almost all been absorbed by the rice. Add the dried cranberries, raisins and stock and season with salt and pepper. Simmer on a low boil for 15 minutes, then cover and steam for 5 minutes (if your pan doesn’t have a lid, use a large piece of foil).
  3. Add the kale, cover again and steam for a further 5 minutes or so, until the kale has gently wilted (not collapsed) and the rice is just tender (brown rice still has a nutty bite once cooked). Stir in the nuts, add a squeeze of lemon juice and more seasoning to taste.

Cooks notes


* Use shredded cabbage or Brussels sprouts or broccoli florets in place of the kale.

* Try adding some fresh herbs – chopped parsley or a little dill or mint.

Tip: toasting nuts

For whole hazelnuts with their skins on, bake in an oven heated to 200°C/Gas 6 for 8–10 minutes or so, keeping an eye on them, until the skins turn a dark brown. Transfer to a clean tea towel, wrap it up and use to rub off the skins. For other shelled nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, a gentle heat in a dry frying pan or low oven to warm them through and release their oils is enough.

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