Sunday, April 25, 2021

Toasted Brown Rice and Carrot Pilaf

Casserole dish of Toasted Rice and Carrot Pilaf
Recipe Inspired by PPFA Cookbook

Receiving 4 lbs. of carrots in 2 weeks inspired me to peruse The Carrot Cookbook, a mini volume published to raise funds for Planned Parenthood Santa Cruz about 3 generations ago. I combined their idea of a layered, rose-scented white rice-carrot casserole with my latest experiment: toasted brown rice. The result tastes sweet and toasty, with toothsome contrast in textures. Toasting the brown rice reduces its cooking time, lightens its texture, and adds flavor.

Toasting the brown rice also softens it and drives off any internal moistness. This can reduce its volume. So I start with more than the 1 cup of rice I want to end up with. Different batches of rice behave differently, so there might be some left over. Better than making too little and having to toast twice (which I’ve done). Some people toast 2 – 4 cups at a time, to have on hand for spontaneous use.

serving of toasted brown rice carrot pilaf
Sweet Comfort Food
This dish is decidedly sweet, and it plays well with a vinaigrette salad, Brussels sprouts, grilled lamb, or anything with a similarly strong flavor profile. The sweetness of the carrots, onions, and rose water are augmented by butter and a bit of sugar. I played up this sweetness with spices. Toasted rice adds a bit of earthy contrast.

As we enjoy the first spring veggies, let’s remember the humble carrot, our staple throughout the year. Spring carrots, which have overwintered in the ground, are particularly sweet. Let’s enjoy them now, and always!

toasted rice in skillet
First Flavor Key: Toasted Rice
Toasted Brown Rice and Carrot Pilaf
makes 7 - 8 cups

  • 1¼ cups brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • ¾ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ~1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. rosewater

Toast the brown rice in a skillet over medium heat for 5 – 6 minutes, stirring constantly, till golden brown. Measure out 1 cup.

Boil water in medium saucepan. Add salt and 1 cup toasted rice to water. Return to boil and reduce heat to low. Without opening lid, simmer slowly 35 minutes, until most water is absorbed (a glass lid helps). Keep lid in place, remove from heat, and let rest 10 – 15 minutes till all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with fork.

While rice cooks, grate carrots with food processor, or use a box grater. You will have about 5 cups. Chop onion finely (about 1 cup).

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes.

butter melting in skillet
Second Flavor Key: Butter!
Add grated carrots and sauté gently 10 – 15 minutes till tender, scooping carrots up from bottom of pan and flipping periodically with pancake turner to cook them evenly.

Remove carrots from heat when tender. Add sugar, cinnamon, and coriander. Mix well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Warm a 1½ or 2 quart, lidded casserole dish in microwave for a minute or two (you needn’t heat the lid). Butter generously with about 1 tbsp. butter.

Reheat rice in microwave to warm if cooled. Stir in rose water.

Layer carrots and rice in buttered casserole dish as follows, assuming about 4 cups each carrots and rice, and flattening each layer before adding the next:

  1. 1¼ cups rice (bottom)
  2. 2 cups carrots
  3. 1¼ cups rice
  4. 2 cups carrots
  5. 1½ cups rice (top)

Cover casserole dish. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. With lid in place allow 5 - 10 minutes rest time before serving.

carrots and onions sauteing in skillet
Sauteeing Carrot and Onion
Spices, sugar, and salt added to carrots
Spicing the Carrots
Layering: Adding a carrot layer
Adding a Carrot Layer
Layering: adding a rice layer
Adding a Rice Layer
closeup of the toasted brown rice & carrot pilaf served
The Grand Finale: Lightly Scented with Rosewater

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