Thursday, February 26, 2009

lemony mushroom pilaf

Hello hungry people.

One thing you'll learn about me if you don't know it already is that I am absolutely, positively obsessed with lemons. I go through at least a Trader Joe's bag-full a week, and I'm ok with it. They are a flavorful and low-calorie way to add some zip to your dish!

Naturally, when I encountered a recipe for pilaf with mushrooms, onions, and spinach that seemed a bit lame on the seasoning side, I decided to try it with lemon. Boy, was that a good idea. I incorporated some of the elements I use in tofu piccata, and it proved to be a delight. This pilaf has great texture, color, and sheen, and the cherry on top? It's simple!

A note about pilaf: technically, a pilaf is a dish in which a grain, such as rice or cracked wheat, is browned in oil and then cooked in a seasoned broth. This recipe does not call for a browning of the grain, so perhaps it's not technincally a pilaf. However, I'm not sure what else to call it, so that's what we're going with. And hey, if you're feeling motivated, go ahead and brown your grains! It's up to you.

2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup uncooked grain (i.e. rice, bulgur, etc. I used a mixed grain medley from Trader Joe's)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup onions, chopped
4 oz cremini mushroooms, thinly sliced
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup white wine
juice of one lemon (I went for a large one, but if you're not so hot on it, go for a smaller one)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To begin, bring your broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the grains and cover, reduce to a simmer. Cook until the grain is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Or, if you're using something very different, follow the package instructions. Whatever.

While that's happening, you can get going on the veggies. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, then reduce the heat to medium. Stir those bad boys till they're good and tender and looking a bit golden. This will take about 7 or 8 minutes. Add your mushrooms and cook until they're starting to get brown, about three minutes more. By now your skillet should have some nice yumminess on the bottom, so go ahead and add the wine slowly. With a wooden spoon, help the wine to lift the browned bits from the bottom by scraping it up gently. For you non-foodies out there, this is called "deglazing." When it looks like the wine has done its job, add the lemon juice and simmer for two minutes or so. Add the spinach, salt, and pepper, and cook until the spinach wilts. You'll have to add the spinach in sections for it to all fit in the skillet.

When your grains are done, spoon them into the skillet with the veggies, draining off any excess broth. Stir everything together over low heat until it's well combined. Eat it while it's hot!

What's so nice about a dish like this is that you can really get creative with it. If you don't like spinach, choose other greens. If you don't like lemon, try it with soy sauce or other spices. Go heavier or lighter on the veggies/grain ratio depending on your preference. It's totally flexible, and all kinds of delicious.

Om nom nom.

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