Friday, February 15, 2019

Vegetarian Chickpea and Butternut Squash Pilaf

Don't let word vegetarian to trick you. This pilaf is full of flavor and utterly delicious. It is an easy and healthy recipe, you will love it! 

Blog's Category: Healthy, My Staple Food, Pilafs, Vegetarian

I cooked this pilaf numerous times and it was always up to expectation. Even my meat adoring husband loves this pilaf. For vegetarians it is one-meal-dish, full of nutrition and filling. 

This pilaf is really good with some pickled vegetables on a side, olives, pickles or sauerkraut. It is also a rich side dish for any meat dish.


- Recipe calls for basmati rice, but when I don't have it, I often use jasmine rice. 

- If you are not fan of carrots, grate or chop it finely, but do not omit it. You can even process raw carrots into course crumbles before adding it to a pilaf.

- We will cook pilaf, from beginning to the end, in one pot. Prepare a large, oven-proof pot, preferably wide and low (just for your convenience). 

- It is a limited ingredients for this pilaf. Do not omit any. Each of them has its role in a dish. You will be rewarded with a result - full-bodied, nutritious, comfort-food meal.

Vegetarian Chickpea and Butternut Squash Pilaf

  • 2 large onions, peeled and diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks (or grated)
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (small dices)
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 cups basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly and left in water to soak until required
  • 1 cup flavorless olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp salt
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (for mild spiciness)

- Prepare your ingredients as instructed above. As you start cooking, process will run fast.

- Turn oven on to 370F.

- Pour all olive oil in a pot and heat it up. Just before it starts to smoke, add onion and cook stirring until it soft and translucent. 

- Add carrots and butternut squash. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

- Drain your rice.  Add rice, garlic, salt and pepper to the pot with vegetables. Stir carefully all together, add 3 cups of boiling water. 

- Cover pot tightly with a lid or foil. Transfer to a pre-heated to 375F oven for 1 hour. 

- Enjoy!



For Middle Eastern pilafs, as it was in South-Asian republics of USSR, traditionally, carrots were cut into thick sharp-edged matchsticks. I do the same. But sometimes, people, kids especially, don't like those carrot pieces in pilaf. Feel free to chop carrots finely, perhaps in a kitchen processor. Or grate them. Small pieces of carrots, cooked in oil first and then cooked in rice, will be rather invisible, still giving sweetness and flavor to whole dish. 

 It seems like it is a lot of oil. Do not be afraid to use that much oil. It is customary using a lot of oil in pilafs. Trust me, I regret using less when I tried.

 I'm not sure why this time I decided to use smaller pan to fry vegetables and then transfer all into glass dish before popping it in an oven. Please do as I instructed in a recipe - use a large, oven-proof pot for everything, cooking on a stove, adding all ingredients and then cooking in an oven.

 Picture does not tell you how yummy it is. Well... it is!

You may think this pilaf does not have any flavorful spices! Then you probably have no idea how much flavor all these ingredients have, well enough to forget about any kind of regular spices ;) Please try this recipe as is!