The versatility of pilaf makes it a welcome dish in a cook’s repertoire. Because it can be supplemented with a wide variety of vegetables, it’s a delicious way to use up produce that you have on hand. Diced carrots and celery; slivers of fresh fennel and diced zucchini; diced bell peppers and green onions; thinly sliced green beans and green peas. Among my favorite pilaf add-ons are corn kernels and sliced leeks. (Note that if you’re adding dense veggies, such as carrots, those beauties will need to be added 3 or 4 minutes after the broth is added.)
The term “pilaf” is generally used when rice is cooked in a broth, and often implies that the rice has attained a golden color by first being sautéed lightly in oil (or oil and butter) before the addition of the broth. When entertaining, I make pilaf ahead of time and reheat it in the microwave before serving it. Lovely.
Corn and Leek Pilaf
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1 large leek or 2 small leeks, white and light green portion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, canola oil or grapeseed oil
1 1/2 cups long-grained rice
3 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
3/4 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional: chopped fresh basil or parsley, to taste
1. Quarter leek(s) lengthwise and cut into thin crosswise slices. Place in bowl of cold water and squish them around to remove any sand or grit. Drain and pat dry; set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, heat butter and oil on medium-high heat. Add rice and cook, stirring a couple of times, for 1 minute. Add leek(s) and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice turns light golden brown. Add broth and bring to boil. Cover with tight lid and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer 13 minutes. Add corn, cover and cook 4 minutes or until all broth is gone. Remove cover.
3. Add salt, pepper and, if using, chopped fresh herbs. Toss; taste and adjust as needed.