Aegean Style Vegetable Pilaf
(Ege Usulu Sebzeli Pilav)
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1 cup hot water or chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely sliced
1 small eggplant, peeled, cut in cubes, soak into the salty water
about 15 minutes, drained and squeeze excess water
1 small zucchini, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup brown mushrooms, cleaned and sliced, I used cremeni mushroom
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut in bite size
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 tbsp dried currants, soak into the hot water for 10 minutes and drain
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
Some fresh mint, chopped
Some fresh dill, copped
1 tsp lemon zest
To cook the Pilaf:
Wash the rice several times with warm water and drain. Then cover the rice with hot water and leave for about 15 minutes, then drain. Melt the butter in a cooking pot. Saute the rice with butter for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Pour 1 cup of hot water or chicken stock in it. Add salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook until the rice absorbs all the water.
Take the cooking pot away from the heat. Open the lid, place a clean kitchen towel across the top of the pot on the rim and put the lid on it. Let the Pilaf stand for about 5 minutes. We call this brewing time.
When the pilaf starts brewing, start to cook vegetables.
In a large skillet, saute the onion with salt and olive oil for about 1-2 minutes. Add rest of the vegetables except garlic. Saute them until they are tender on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic 2-3 minutes before turn the heat off.
Gently toss all the vegetables with the cooked pilaf using a fork. Place it in the serving dish, then sprinkle fresh mint, dill and lemon zest all over it. Serve the dish warm or at room temperature as a light lunch. It is a great vegetarian dish:)