Honestly, I’ve no idea how I’ve managed to NOT share this recipe for rice pilaf with vegetables before now. I’ve had it forever. We make it often. It just seems so, well, simple … almost too simple to post.
But it’s so delicious, it’s high time to share it.
This veggie-packed rice pilaf recipe dates from the very early portion of our married life, when I moved to Cincinnati after Rob and I got hitched. We went to Cook’s Wares to add a few items to our tiny (tiny!!!!) apartment kitchen. A chef was demonstrating and sampling the most delicious rice dish studded with red bell pepper and zucchini; she called it “Peonais” or Catalan Rice Pilaf. When we got home, I copied the recipe onto a card, which has since acquired various and assorted smudges and stains because we’ve made it so often. (As an aside, when I searched the word ‘peonais,’ Google turns up nothing; it’s entirely possible that I either misspelled the word when copying the recipe, or it’s just something made-up.)
We make this recipe in a Le Creuset braising pan — which, as it happens, we won in a giveaway on that trip to the cookware store. The ingredients practically spill out of the pan (this rice pilaf recipe makes enough to feed a crowd). It’s fantastic for a satisfying meatless dinner (swap vegetable or tomato broth for the chicken stock). Armed with a glut of cherry tomatoes and giant red bell peppers from the garden, I was happy to make this again recently. Wonderfully, this is one of those recipes that get better the next day; this rice pilaf is fantastic for lunch with a few crackers and nibbles of cheese.
Catalan rice pilaf
makes 6 servings
3 Tbsp. olive oil
red bell pepper flakes
1 large onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
2 1/2 cups chicken, vegetable or tomato broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large saute pan, warm the olive oil; add the dried pepper and cook until it's fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes; add the garlic. Reduce heat and simmer the onion and garlic until they're soft and translucent (but not brown), about 15–20 minutes. Add the peppers and zucchini and cook until they soften. Add the tomatoes; bring to a boil. Add the rice and broth. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the chopped parsley and simmer 5 minutes more. Season the pilaf well with salt and pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.