Diana Henry’s pilaf of mixed grains, sweet potato and fennel
- January 2015
- Serves 4 as a main or 6-8 as a side
- Hands-on time 1 hour, oven time 1 hour
For a hearty vegetarian dinner, try Diana Henry’s pilaf recipe – made with mixed grains, sweet potato and fennel, served with an avocado cream.
- 30.7g (5.4g saturated)
- 78.7g (13.6g sugars)
- 2 sweet potatoes (about 500g), peeled and cut into 3.5cm chunks
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 80g wild rice
- 2 small fennel bulbs
- 100g red quinoa (see Diana’s tip)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
- 100g bulgur wheat
- 400ml good quality vegetable stock
For the avocado cream
- 2 ripe avocados
- Juice 2 limes
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tbsp sherry vinegar, or more to taste
- Heat the oven to 190°C/fan170°C/gas 5. Put the sweet potatoes in a roasting tin and toss with 2 tbsp of the oil, the balsamic vinegar and some seasoning. Roast for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, put the wild rice in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and cook for 45 minutes.
- Trim the tips from the fennel (reserve any fronds), cut the bulbs into quarters and remove any tough or discoloured outer layers. Carefully cut out the core at the base of each (but not so much that the bulbs fall apart). Add the fennel to the roasting tin with the sweet potatoes for the last 20 minutes of their cooking time. Both should be tender and slightly charred when ready.
- While the vegetables are cooking, toast the quinoa in a dry frying pan for 2 minutes, then set aside. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a pan, then fry the onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic and chillies and fry for 2 minutes, then add the toasted quinoa, bulgur and stock. Season, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until you have dry-ish, fluffy grains. Transfer to a bowl.
- Drain the wild rice, rinse with freshly boiled water from the kettle, then gently fork it into the quinoa and bulgur along with the roasted vegetables and any reserved fennel fronds. Taste and season.
- Prepare the avocado cream just before you want to serve it, as it will discolour if left to sit. Halve, pit and scoop out the avocado flesh, then mash with all the other cream ingredients until smooth. Taste for seasoning (a little extra vinegar may be required). Serve with the pilaf.
Recipe from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry (£25; Mitchell Beazley)
The quinoa doesn’t have to be red, but it does look good if you can find it.
This pilaf recipe works as a side dish with meat, or as a spicy main-course vegetable dish served with plenty of fresh salad leaves.
Prepare the pilaf when you have a little more time at the weekend, then use it up during the week for lunches.
Health editor Anne Montague says: “Wholegrains such as wild rice, quinoa and bulgur wheat help to protect against diabetes, keep the gut healthy and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. A wholegrain-rich diet may help control weight, too – researchers found women who ate a diet containing lots of wholegrains were less likely to gain extra pounds, probably because grains keep you feeling full for longer than simple carbohydrates such as potatoes and white pasta.”
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