Riz pilaf végétarien aux petits pois et champignons
Peas. I am growing peas all over the veg patch this year. It’s almost ridiculous, but it has a reason. You see, we visited Denmark last year, during summer, and we were overwhelmed by their pea-culture. Peas were present everywhere. You could buy them on the side of the road. Fellow campers were sharing pea pods with each other as they were nuts. Supermarkets barely sold anything else at the vegetable isle. To summarise it: we ate a lot of peas that summer. I shared a few of our meals on instagram at that time.
As a lasting memory we bought a handful of pea varieties at a local shop, and this year we are growing them ourselves from those seeds. They are growing so well, that we can eat peas daily right now. Which is lovely, but a bit monotonous as well to be honest. The good thing is that it forces me to experiment more.
Remembering an amazing dish – pictured below – we made in Denmark with the peas and mushrooms, I decided to explore the same road for this recipe and combine peas with mushrooms again. This time using gigantic Paris mushrooms and also replacing the pasta by rice. The experiment turned out fantastic and that’s why I’m sharing it with you. It was not only delicious and healthy, but as always – well not always – it’s also a very quick recipe. I think you can finish everything (including podding your own peas) from beginning to end within 20 minutes. That’s pretty ok right?
Cooking in batches (the old-fashioned way)
It was also a meal for two days for us, so basically I used half that time (a day) to cook a full fresh meal. I don’t know if I told you before, but I always cook for at least two days (whenever I have enough ingredients for one specific dish obviously or whenever the dish is suitable for freezing). I either cook for two (or more) dinners or I cook for one dinner and one lunch (for Eduard) the day after.
In France work lunch is a different kind of food affair than in the Netherlands. And it’s not about the wine. That is really not common during workdays for most. It’s actually about the food. People don’t take a lunch bag along with slices of bread. They try to eat full meals, with a main dish and a dessert and such. Most of the times a lunchroom is organised by a workplace or people are offered lunch coupons to eat at a place nearby.
At Eduards new workplace, they don’t have a restaurant though but they do eat all together. So he has to take his food along or he has to eat out, which is time consuming and loss of time. Therefore whenever I find the opportunity to cook one extra serving the night before, it’s always very much appreciated in the morning by the boyfriend.
And if I’m able to cook more than one extra serving, it also relieves me, as I don’t like to cook every day. There are many days in the week, when I prefer to skip cooking, even if it’s only 20 minutes work. On those days I nowadays just look at the list of homemade dishes we have in the freezer and I take something out and warm it up in the oven. Not everything is suitable for this kind of preserving, but many things are. For example, I make tomato sauces in batches, but also all types of savoury cakes, soups and lasagna or moussaka. If it’s not suitable for long term preservation in the freezer, it goes along with Eduard for lunch.
What about ‘fresh’ food?
I can recommend this method of cooking to you if you like to eat healthy and fresh food, but don’t like to cook daily. I have been doing this for two years now I think. I didn’t do this in the past, and we would then order a lot of food or go out for dinner or have pre-made factory meals in the freezer. That kind of eating would rarely be satisfying, healthy or affordable in the end.
What about eating fresh from the plot? Well, we still eat fresh from the plot. Not daily though, and we don’t always eat it straight from the plot. I think I use a different definition for fresh sometimes. Many foods don’t loose their nutritious value by freezing them. So when I use the word fresh, I might mean nutritious seasonal food, that didn’t come from a package in the store. Honestly if in winter, I have to choose between a tomato sauce that I made from my own preserved summer tomatoes or a tomato sauce that I made from ‘fresh’ winter tomatoes, I will always choose for the summer tomatoes that were preserved in the right season. Taste is important, and the meaning of fresh apparently isn’t as straightforward as we sometimes think it is.
At the same time harvests also come in batches and we can’t eat everything at once. That will definitely be the case with the tomatoes later on in the year. But is also the case with many other things. Besides that, most dinners are served with a salad on the side and that comes fresh – or better said – raw from the plot. So as long as it’s a mix of things that we eat, I believe this way of eating is nutritious. Don’t worry, this cooking method won’t deprive you from fresh foods.
Where is the man behind the stove?
Before I move on to the recipe, for those feminists that are reading along: you might be wondering why I cook so much, and Eduard isn’t? Well, he is cooking, but only during weekends. I prefer to eat early (for dietary and energy preserving reasons) and if I have to wait till Eduard comes home from work, settles, and then starts to cook, in his usual non-time-efficient way *h-angry-ness, talking*, I will have to eat twice that evening as I’m hungry in the late afternoon/early evening. Our arrangement is just a very practical solution which works for us both. I also prefer cooking over doing the dishes and cleaning up, so for me it isn’t a big deal. As long as I don’t have to cook daily and if Eduard cooks during weekend, I’m a happy camper. Let’s move on.
Pilav is a name for a rice cooking and presentation method. It also implies a certain type of rice that is used. For me the method stands somewhere in between cooking rice as risotto is cooked, and baking rice, like it often happens in the asian kitchen for example. And the rice used in pilav, is also somewhere in between the long thin more lucid rice that is used in asian dishes and the rounder less transparent white rice that is used for making risotto.
Depending on the time I have at my disposal, I prepare the pilav rice in different ways. Sometimes I cook the rice with the oil and the herbs in a dish in the oven. That will take quite a while, but the top of the dish will have a very nice crunchy layer. Also the herbs or the stock used will be fully absorbed by the dish. The taste can be more intens that way. If I don’t have a lot of time. I just cook the rice in water, along with some herbs and stock, drain it, and then stir fry it with veggies afterwards. I serve it as shown on the picture in a round shape. Traditionally pilav is served as a bowl.
I realise making pilav can take many different forms, depending on ones cultural background, but this is my take on vegetarian pilav. I really love the combination of this dish. The peas bring in freshness, while the mushrooms build up a strong flavour and replace the meat that some of you might miss.
Ingredients (for 3 people)
- two cups of rice (I used a Turkish rice)
- two cups of peas
- 3 onions
- 4 big Paris mushrooms or 2 portobello’s
- fresh herbs to taste (I used marjoram and thyme)
- vegetable stock (water with a bouillon cube or in my case a spoon of Vegeta)
- pepper & salt to taste
- Start with the rice. Let it cook in the vegetable stock till it’s done. When it’s done, drain it.
- Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Now cut the stems in small pieces and mix them with the shredded onion in a oiled pan. Stir fry the onion and mushroom stems till the onion is nice and glazy. Now add the fresh herbs to the mix. Take the mix out.
- In a third pot, start cooking the water for the peas. In the meantime take the peas out of their pods.
- Use the pan that you used for the onions to grill the mushrooms. Oil the pan once again and grill them on a high fire for a very short time on both sides. Now that they are grilled on both sides, you can turn the fire down a bit and let them bake a bit longer till they are done on the inside. Let them go as long as you want and serve them as raw as you want. I like them pretty well done. When done, take them out of the pan.
- By now the water of the peas will be cooking. Turn it off and place the peas for a minute or so in the water. Just to cook them briefly and take them out.
- Use the pan of the onions and mushrooms again. Place some oil on the bottom, let it warm up, and add the onion mix and the rice on top. Now quickly stir fry the mix.
- You’re done. Now that everything is ready, keep it warm and serve it up on a plate like pictured (or any other way). I think for (grown-up) children the nest effect has added value and will do the trick (if the smell and taste isn’t enough).