It is currently Spring time here in Western Australia and although the weather is lovely and sunny this weekend, the nights are still pretty cold and the need for warming, comforting dinners is still very much on the cards. Last night was particularly chilly, despite the day itself being super warm and sunshine-y. So, for dinner, I decided to make this pilaf which is always a winner and very yummy. It’s easy to make and doesn’t need lots of special ingredients. I change it up depending on what ingredients I have in the fridge at the time (it’s a good left-overs meal). Here is the basic recipe (pinched & tweaked from Margaret Johnson’s original that appeared in our local paper, The Sunday Times):
Barley, Roasted Pumpkin & Carrot Pilaf
Ingredients : (serves 4 as a side dish)
800g pumpkin, cubed (4cm cubes)
2 medium carrots, cut into cubes as per pumpkin
Salt & pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, washed and chopped
2 tsp garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch chilli flakes
1 cup pearl barley
2 cups vegetable stock
Coat the pumpkin and carrot in olive oil and roast on an oven tray at 220c for about 30 minutes or until they have a little colour.
Heat the second lot of oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and leek. Cook over moderate heat until golden and soft and add the garlic and spices/seasoning.
Add the pearl barley and coat the grains with the onion/leek mixture. Add the stock, cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. The pilaf is ready when almost all the water is absorbed and the barley grains are tender. I would recommend keeping a close eye on the saucepan during the simmering process – add small amounts of extra water or stock if it looks like the liquid is being absorbed too quickly ie if the grains are not yet cooked but mixture is sticking on the bottom of the pan.
Once the pilaf is done, add the roasted veggies and serve with a garnish of parsley, coriander, or whatever herbs you prefer.
Last night I added some grated cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and lovely fresh asparagus to our pilaf. Very delish! I’ve also added chopped mushrooms before and that is also tasty. The original recipe calls for chicken breasts to be served with the dish but as we’re vegos, we just had the pilaf as a dish on it’s own.
Try it – it makes a nice change from risotto or pasta and is cheap to make too.