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Christopher Burns Christopher Burns
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Quick 'n' easy vegetarian pilaf

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The joy of cooking for yourself is often offset by the pain of cooking for yourself, especially the investment of time and money. Well, I know how you feel, so this week my gift to you is a great, healthy rice dish that packs a lot of flavor and health, if that's what you're into.

A pilaf is a pretty pliable dish because there is no definitive, standard, canonical recipe. Most use orzo pasta; others call for lentils, quinoa or spelt. Some don't even use rice! So customize to your heart's content, my children.

For this veggie pilaf, I recommend Hannaford brand frozen mixed veggies that includes peas, corn, carrots, green and lima beans, which, with tomatoes and mushrooms, gives you a wide color palate. Also, you might recall my last edge vegetarian column about homemade veggie stock. Well, I brought that recipe to bear here and it really brings the pilaf together.

Veggie medley pilaf

prep time: 10 minutes

cook time: 40 minutes

2 tbsp. canola oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 chili pepper, sliced

1 tbsp. curry powder

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. black pepper

2 tsp. sesame seeds

1 14.5 oz. can of tomatoes, drained

1 4 oz. can of mushrooms, drained

1 cup rice

1 cup orzo

1 cup mixed veggies

2 cups veggie broth

Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a wide stainless steel skillet. Once the oil reaches temperature, add the minced garlic and sesame seeds and cook 2 minutes. Keep an eye on the garlic and seeds to ensure they don't burn and blacken. Now add the chili pepper, stir and cover for 1 minute.

Fill the skillet with the rice and orzo, and stir in the garlic, seeds and peppers. Cover for 1 minute. Stir in the seasonings and cook 1 minute, stirring. Mix in the tomatoes, mushrooms and mixed veggies; cover and cook another minute.

Pour in the veggie broth and stir the pilaf thoroughly, scraping up anything stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Cover and bring to a boil. Promptly reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

For added delight, turn up the heat on this recipe with a generous helping of Sriracha.

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