Step 1Combine the rice, vegetable stock and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a saucepan and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. (Not all of the liquid will be absorbed.)
Step 2Meanwhile, place a small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, but not smoking, add the pine nuts. Toast them until nicely browned, stirring constantly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer them to a plate and set aside to cool.
Step 3Place the dried apricots in a small bowl, add hot water to cover and allow to plump for 20 minutes. Drain and reserve.
Step 4Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan and cook the celery, carrots and onion until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, sage and parsley and cook 1 more minute. Remove from the heat.
Step 5Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Step 6When the rice is tender, add the cooked vegetable mixture to the rice. Add the reserved pine nuts and apricots, and stir to combine. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Step 7Use the remaining 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease a 2 1/2-quart oven-to-table casserole. Spoon in the rice stuffing and cover. Bake until heated through, 20 minutes. (The stuffing can be made up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate, covered and bring to room temperature 1 hour before baking. Increase the baking time to 40 minutes to ensure it's heated through.)