a buttery herbed pilaf

16th June 2018

Each year I plant broad beans because of their delightfully scented pure white, black and white flower. The seed always germinates, even in this unpredictable Sintra weather but when the beans arrive, I am sometimes at a loss at what to do with them.

This year, there was an abundance of both succulent beans and sweet peas. Just in time, I came across this rice dish which enabled me to make use of all the various green bits and pieces from the garden, that have emerged at this time of year.

The herbs soften the buttery rice and infuse it with flavour. The steaming method of cooking the rice forms a crusty bottom, creating crunchy shards of golden rice. It is a splendid outcome.

a  buttery herbed pilaf

Serves 3 – 4

Recipe adapted ‘Gather Cook Feast’ by Jessica Seaton.

Feel free to swap the vegetables around or even omit them out completely. I sometimes just prepare the crunchy buttery rice without any herbs or vegetables and serve it alongside a simple Indian spiced dal. 

ingredients:

1 cup/180g white basmati rice

½ cup/65g fresh young broad beans

½ cup/70g fresh sweet peas

½ cup/70 g finely chopped green beans (optional)

1 large bunch/20g each of fresh parsley, dill or fennel fronds

1 very large bunch/80g of fresh coriander

½ cup/125ml melted ghee – divided (or 75g butter-melted)

salt and pepper to taste

zest from half a lemon

juice from half lemon

preparation:

Wash the rice in cold water and drain. Repeat three more times to flush out all the excess starch (this helps the rice to be fluffy with nice separate grains when cooked). Then leave to soak in cold water for an hour while you prepare everything else.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. In it blanch the broad beans, peas and chopped green beans for 3 – 4 minutes, then drain and refresh in ice-cold water immediately to cool them down (this keeps them green). When they are completely cold, drain the peas and beans, set aside.

Finely chop the leaves and tender stems of all the herbs, and mix together. Keep any tough stems for soups or stews. Set aside.

Drain the rice. Fill a medium saucepan (with a lid that fits) with very well salted water. Bring the water to a vigorous boil and cook the rice for exactly 5 minutes, starting the timer from the moment the rice enters the pot. Drain in a colander and let sit for 5 minutes or so to steam dry.

Return the empty pan to the stove, add half of the melted ghee. Split the pile of herbs in two – one to use now, setting the other half aside to use later. Add one-third of the rice to the pot, then half of the herbs for using now. Do not mix. Repeat with the next third of the rice and the other half of the herbs. Finish with the last third of rice. Drizzle the remaining melted ghee over the top.

Cover the pot with a tea towel, then place the lid firmly on top, folding the corners of the tea towel over the top so that they don’t catch fire. Cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes, then place the pot on the lowest heat you can manage and continue cooking for another 45 minutes.

When the rice is ready, mix the reserved herbs from the bowl and the peas and beans into the rice and pile it all on to a good wide platter or bowl. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and squeeze over the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and a few rounds of pepper. Scrape up the crisp rice at the bottom of the pot and tuck it into the pile of rice shards – it’s delicious.

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