I’ve called this recipe midweek vegetable pilau because it is a recipe you could easily put together after a hard day’s work. There’s a bit of chopping at the beginning but after that it takes care of itself.
I am making no apologies for using frozen vegetables in this dish. I think they’re ideal for single people or people on a tight budget. There’s no loss of nutrients in the freezing process and no noticeable lack of texture in a dish like this. And no waste. And it uses curry powder. So sue me. There are times when I want to grind my own curry spices, but a Thursday night after a day at work generally isn’t one of them. Of course, if you feel differently, please add your own spice mix.
This has a lot of taste that belies the effort involved. And it’s very comforting on a cold night.
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
150g basmati rice
200g frozen mixed vegetables
30g cashew nuts
400g tin chopped tomatoes or passata
200ml veg stock
2 tbsp coriander, chopped
Heat a little oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic.
Sweat them for a while until the onion goes translucent.
Stir in the curry powder and let it cook for a minute.
Then add the rice, mixed vegetables, nuts, tomatoes and the veg stock.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to the simmer and put the lid on.
Simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Keep an eye on it and add more liquid if it’s starting to catch on the bottom of the pan.
Serve with the coriander sprinkled over the top.
What’s your favourite comfort food? Not the ‘it rained on me when I was walking home’ food, or the ‘planned outing was cancelled’ food, but the real ‘my entire life sucks, everyone hates me and I think I had something to do with it’ food. When the chips are down and all hope is gone I turn to cream of mushroom soup, but not just any mushroom soup, specifically Campbell’s Condensed Mushroom soup eaten undiluted and served over white rice with a lot of black pepper. When Superman’s otherwise engaged, the Bat Signal’s bulb has gone out and The Avenger’s satnav is leading them astray, this will save your life. Trust me on this.
Having said that, I’m eating less and less dairy nowadays, so I wanted to see if I could replicate the creamy soul-saving effects without using real cream. Soy yoghurts are out of the equation, the only plain one I’ve found has vanilla in it, which would just be wrong. The vegan milk replacements wouldn’t be creamy enough. Eventually I settled on coconut milk. I had used it in the lentil, spinach and coconut soup and had been impressed by the way it didn’t take over the dish, but made it much richer and creamier. It does exactly the same here, the creamy richness is there, but you have to really look for the coconut flavour.
The other thing that helps this recipe work is the Porcini stock cubes. Not all supermarkets keep them (I found mine in Waitrose) but if you spot them they are well worth buying. They pack a huge mushroom flavour. If you can’t find them, don’t worry, just use a good veg stock and 2 tablespoons of the mushroom ketchup.
1 leek, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
400g mushrooms, roughly chopped
500ml mushroom stock
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
150 ml coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut milk for garnish
Sweat the leek in a little oil in a large saucepan.
When the leek is softened add the garlic and stir for about a minute.
Add the mushrooms, stock, mushroom ketchup and coconut milk.
Bring to the simmer and leave for 30 minutes.
When cooked, remove from the heat and blend until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot with a swirl of coconut milk for garnish.
Serves 2 (or 1 if you really need it!)