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Favorite Brown Rice Vegetable Pilaf

Some months back I was browsing in an out-of-the-way garden center not very far from the Green Line. I took it for granted that I'd never see anyone I'd know here but I thought wrong. "You're Lisa from Meatland...I get your newsletters," remarked a stranger as he balanced a tray of colorful seedlings in his arms. "We've made a lot of your recipes," he continued,"and would like to ask if you'd send out more vegetarian options." Especially for this fellow garden center shopper - and anyone else wanting to feed vegans/vegetarians or increase your vegetable-based repertoire - I'm happy to share an absolute favorite meat-free dish that frequently features in our trial dish selection. It's packed full of protein-rich lentils, fiber-rich brown rice, and meaty mushrooms, and it makes an equally successful parve side dish or take-to- work light meal. Make adaptions if desired - see notes - and open your eyes to a healthy, new world of possibilities.

Brown Mushroom Rice

1 cup green or black lentils 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon (5 ml) cumin Pinch salt 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) brown rice 1/2 teaspoon Italian dried herbs* 3 tablespoons canola oil 2 large onions, sliced I large red pepper, sliced (see notes) 300 grams Portobello brown mushrooms, sliced 2 sticks celery, chopped 1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped parsley 2 cups mung bean sprouts 4 tablespoons soya sauce 1/2 cup (125 ml) blanched almonds, toasted Baby leaves/rocket/avocado to serve * Dried oregano, thyme, basil or a mixture of all which I like best. 1: Combine lentils and rice, add cumin, bay leaf, dried herbs and salt, and add approximately 4 cups water. Check to see if more water is needed during cooking. Cook covered for around 45 minutes till tender and add extra water if needed. 2: Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and red pepper and cook till soft and onions are browning. 3: Add mushrooms, celery and parsley and stir-fry for 5 minutes then add sprouts and soya sauce and cook a further 3 minutes, tossing with a wooden spoon. 4: Toss mixture through rice and scatter over almonds. Serve on a bed of rocket or baby leaves and top with sliced avocado if desired. COOK'S NOTES: If you really can't stand peppers then substitute with sliced zucchini or broccoli florets. Add salt and pepper if desired though the soya is usually salty enough. Mung bean sprouts are the long white ones with thick tails.This makes an excellent side dish or vegetarian main meal served with a creamy green salad and keeps very well in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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