This Brazilian Christmas rice recipe is such a festive side dish to have at your holiday table, or an elegant meal. It’s made with champagne, onions, cashews and raisins. This Christmas rice is super easy to make, and pairs well with just about anything from turkey to meat roasts.
Why I love this Christmas Rice Recipe
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 are 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!
Dried fruits and nuts 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 my menu. Hope you like this recipe as much as I do!
Bom Apetite & Feliz Natal!!
We love to serve this festive rice with this Ham with Pineapple Sauce!
Tips on How to make Christmas Rice – scroll down for the full recipe!
We want to start by soaking the raisins in the champagne, and let them hang out there getting tipsy for about an hour or so. Meanwhile, you can do your prep – slice the onions, chop the nuts, make a fresh batch of Brazilian sofrito if you don’t already have it, or just mince some garlic.
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 or your BFF Brazilian Sofrito.
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’s 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!
Other Holiday Side dishes to try:
Check out these fun Brazilian Desserts:
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Brazilian Christmas Rice – Champagne Rice with Raisins and Cashews
- 1 Tbsp of olive oil
- 1/2 onion sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 cup of uncooked rice rinsed
- 3/4 cup of champagne
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1.25 cup water
- 1/2 cup of cashews roughly chopped
- salt to taste about ½ tsp to a tsp per cup of rice
- Soak the raisins in the champagne, and set aside for 30 mins to an hour
- In a medium sauce pan, heat up the oil
- Add the onions and cook until soft and transparent
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and light gold
- Add the rice, season with the salt and stir
- Cook for about a minute, stirring
- Then drain the champagne into the pan (reserve the raisins for later), and cook until it is reduced/evaporated
- Add the water and bring to a gentle boil
- Reduce to a simmer, cover and let it cook until all water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked and firm (try not to peak – we don’t want to lose steam that’s precious for the next step!)
- Turn off the heat and add the raisins to the rice and cover the pan. Let the rice pot sit covered for another ~10 mins – steam
- When you are ready to serve, add the cashews and stir everything to combine and serve