I remember my mother using dried fruit in many of her cooking and baking and they were always delicious. After coming to this country and starting our own tradition, by celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving, I substituted this dish for breadcrumb dressing.Serving this dish to friends and family, they all wanted the recipe, and that is why I decided to share it with others.
Brown celery and onion in a 1 forth cup vegetable oil.
Bring one and 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoon vegetable oil and salt to taste to boil. Rinse rice and add to water, bring to boil, keep an eye on your rice so it does not boil over.Turn heat down with the lead off and cook till most of water is absorbed . Cover and steam 15 minutes on medium/low heat.
Melt the butter in a large and deep sauce pan.Add pitted prunes, pitted dates, cranberries, raisins, celery, and onion. Toss on medium to low heat until everything is heated, about five to six minutes. Use a large and flat spatula to toss gently so you don't smash the fruits . Add rice, saffron, a pinch of salt and teaspoon of pepper. Toss by picking up a spatula full of mixture and turn it over until everything is mixed, but don't mix so much that your fruit is mushy and your rice is not recognizable. Serve as side dish to any meat, fish or chicken. Serve instead of bread crumb stuffing at Christmas and thanksgiving.
This recipe makes a large batch for a big group, you can also divide in 4 and freeze for a month or two or keep in the fridge for a week, heat and serve. Don't heat in the microwave. Instead, thaw if frozen,put the portion you are serving with 2 tablespoons of water in a saucepan, cover and heat on medium heat for a few minutes until it steams. This side dish is delicious and beautiful.You can make this the day before and heat right before serving.
You can use dried and sweetened cranberries, but don't use candied prunes raisins,or dates. Check the dates and the prunes for stones. I have occasionally found stones in the best of brands. You don't want to ruin a lovely dinner with a broken tooth.