Succulent, flavoursome roasted veggies and fluffly, perfectly cooked rice, baked together in one pan for an easy side dish or tasty vegetarian dinner.
I am always on the lookout for a better way to cook rice.
It’s not that rice doesn’t come out nicely when I cook it, it’s just that it always generates such a lot of clearing up! No matter how careful I am it always seems to boil over, so there’s starchy residue to clean off both the inside AND the outside of the pan, and the lid of the pan too. And then the stove needs cleaning where the boiled-over rice water has burned on. Ugh.
And if we have our rice with roasted veggies – a popular combination – that’s another oven tray to clean, plus whatever serving dishes these things end up in before they make it to the table. So much washing up! There has to be a better way. And I think I’ve found it…
Rice, rice, baby…
I was convinced that it was possible to cook rice in the oven. I love my baked risotto recipe, and if you can make creamy and delicious, perfectly cooked risotto that way, then why not lovely fluffy pilaf, too? How hard can it be?
A few hours of research and several rice-based experiments later, and I reckon I’ve cracked it. This recipe uses only ONE oven dish to cook both the rice AND the roasted veg, and produces delicious fluffy grains and delectable roasted veggies every time. Use a respectable baking dish and you can stick it straight on the table and save yourself washing a serving dish too. Hooray!
Rice to meet you!
I used the selection of vegetables that we happened to have in the fridge – peppers, red onion, aubergine (eggplant) and sweet potato – but I think any veg that’s good roasted would work well here. I’ll be having a go with courgettes (zucchini), carrots, parsnips, mushrooms, maybe even beetroot for a pretty pink pilaf. Plenty of opportunities to mix it up and make something uniquely yummy.
We ate this as a terrific veg-packed side dish with some salmon, but it would be the basis of a fabulous vegetarian main dish with the addition of a few chick peas or maybe some crumbled feta and a little chopped fresh mint or parsley sprinkled on top. Or maybe both. Yum.
Update: I’ve had quite a few people asking whether it should be baked covered or uncovered. The answer is UNCOVERED. The vegetables will get nice and browned and roasty, and the layer of veg prevents the rice from getting too dried out. I’ve updated the recipe to make this clearer.
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Roasted vegetable rice pilaf
- 400-600 g mixed roasting vegetables e.g. onion, aubergine, courgette, mushrooms, sweet potato, pepper etc. (approx. 14-21 oz.)
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil (+ a little extra)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- pinch black pepper
- 150 g long grain rice (3/4 cup)
- 200 ml vegetable stock (scant 1 cup)
- 150 ml boiling water (2/3 cup)
- 0.5 tsp mixed dried herbs
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
Wash, peel or trim the vegetables as appropriate and cut into roughly 1.5cm (3/4") cubes. Place in a bowl with the olive oil, crushed garlic and black pepper and toss everything together to coat the vegetables in the oil and seasonings.
Put the rice, stock, boiling water and herbs into a baking dish measuring approximately 15x25cm (6x10 inches). Give the dish a jiggle to distribute the rice evenly.
Gently spoon the vegetables over the top, trying not to disturb the rice too much. The vegetables will be partially submerged in the liquid - this is fine.
Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are starting to brown, the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Check and give it a few more minutes if necessary for the rice to finish cooking.
Remove from the oven and stir the rice and vegetables together before serving.
I’m linking up this recipe with the Weekend Potluck.