A New View of Healthy Eating: Simple Steps to Make an Incredible Rice Pilaf

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By Melanie A. Albert, intuitive cooking expert, author, and speaker. Founder & CEO Experience Nutrition Group, LLC

Today, I was honored to lead a fun SHOP+CHOP+COOK Cooking Class at the Phoenix Public Market, with a group of Girl Scouts who created their own salad dressing, raw kale salad, and we also enjoyed preparing the delicious tomato gazpacho with the local, in season, farmers’ market veggies. I was fortunate to have some beautiful leftovers, which inspired me to create a rice pilaf.  Take a look at today’s rice pilaf with the farmers’ market tomatoes and peppers and the specific culinary technique to make a perfect pilaf.

  •  Look at the incredible rice pilaf ingredients: Brown rice, tomatoes, peppers, arugula, shallot, and veggie stock.
  • Start with sweating the shallots in olive oil for about 10 minutes, and then add the brown rice and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, peppers, and stock to the saute pan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  • Add the arugula and simmer a few more minutes.
  • Fluff the edges of the rice and rest for 10 minutes.


  • Enjoy!


Excerpt from A New View of Healthy Eating: How to Make Rice Pilaf for a Dinner Side Dish

Pilaf is one of the main methods of cooking rice and is popular in Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern cuisines. The pilaf method is similar to steaming; however, in the pilaf method, whole grains are first sautéed, often with aromatics (like onions or shallots) before liquid is added, creating a lot of flavor. Pilafs also include extras such as vegetables and toasted nuts or seeds.

Simple Steps to Cook Using the Pilaf Method

  1. In a sauté pan over low heat, cook mirepoix (carrots, onions, and celery or just onions) in a fat, such as olive oil. Cook on low heat when you do not want to add color to your dish. For more color, cook at a higher temperature.
  2. Add grains to the pan and stir to lightly coat each grain with the fat. Do not rinse grains before cooking.
  3. Toast grains by cooking a little more.
  4. Add a flavorful liquid, such as vegetable stock.
  5. Stir to make sure grain is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Similar to the whole grains steaming method (PAGE…), bring to boil, cover tightly, and reduce heat to the lowest setting (or cook in oven).
  7. Cook a little longer than the time indicated for your grain and until all liquid is absorbed into the grains.
  8. Rest grain for 10-20 minutes.
  9. Rest for 10 minutes.

 Enhance Your Pilaf

To enhance the flavor and texture in your pilaf, add spices, herbs, fresh vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

  • After the grains are coated in fat, add dried spices for extra flavor. Try Middle Eastern spices like star anise, cinnamon, and cumin. For a Mexican pilaf, add chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander seeds.
  • After the cooked grains have rested, add your favorite cooked veggies, fresh herbs, or toasted nuts and seeds to create a meal.

Quick Brown Rice Turmeric Pilaf


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ¾ cup shallots or onions, finely diced
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups vegetable stock


  1. Gather mise en place.
  2. Sweat onions or shallots in olive oil.
  3. Add rice and sauté until translucent.
  4. Add turmeric for color.
  5. Add vegetable stock.
  6. Bring to boil.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes.
  8. Rest for 10 minutes.

If you would like this culinary technique, recipe and more simple ways to cook real whole foods, A New View of Healthy Eating book is now available:


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