sarah’s rice pilaf

I’ve been a little slow on the blogging draw as of late. But rather than bore you with the details of why, here’s one of those dusty old drafts I never got around to posting. Maybe because the photography wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. Whatever the case may be, this is a hearty, chewy rice pilaf will make you feel like curling up at a big wooden harvest table with a bunch of good friends. Which reminds me…


How much I miss our Syracuse supper club. We weren’t a formal club, just a group of couples who loved to eat. I think I only attended three or four of the actual events before I moved off to D.C., but being still relative newcomers to our new town, I miss eating regularly with others. This dish was one of the first, served at a cozy home in Tipperary Hill, Syracuse, but the lovely and fleet-footed Sarah. We ate buttery, garlicky mussels, and then this pilaf stuffed into individual mini pumpkins. Sarah introduced me to trail running and French wine, and to that, I owe her the world.


Or at least, dinner. Hopefully, in the next few months, I’ll be able to return the favor.

Billed as one of the most popular dishes at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, it was also at hit one evening at a Tipperary Hill dinner party in Syracuse, New York.

Nutty Wild Rice


4 cups wild or brown rice, cooked accordingly (I used all wild, but this would be great with half of each
½ block of extra firm tofu
1 large yellow onion
2 medium carrots
2 celery stalks
1 green, yellow or orange bell pepper
2 medium zucchini or summer squash
6 ounces mushrooms of your choice, wiped clean (I used dried and soaked shiitakes)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
1 cup mushroom broth (from soaking dried shiitakes, if you use them), vegetable stock, or water
6 ounces grated cheese (Jack, Muenster, Mozza or Gouda)
½ cup walnuts
fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, or marjoram)


1. Cook the rice. Set the tofu on a slanted board or pan under a heavy plate to drain, while you prepare the vegetables. Chop the onion, carrots, celery, pepper, and zucchini into ½-inch square pieces. Quarter mushrooms if they are small, and cut them into sixths or eighths if they are large. Cut the tofu into ½-inch cubes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F.

3. Heat the olive oil and butter together, and fry the onion over medium heat until it is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, nutritional yeast (if using) cumin, and salt. Stir until blended and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots, celery, green pepper and a ½ cup of your chosen broth, then cover the pan and braise the vegetables until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and cook 7 to 10 minutes. The vegetables should be nearly, but not completely, cooked. If the pan gets dry while they cook, add a little more liquid.

4. Stir together the rice, vegetables, and cheese. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Gently mix in the tofu, and spoon the mixture into a deep, lightly oiled casserole dish or individual mini pumpkins (pre-roasted). Add a little more liquid to moisten. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until heated through. Garnish with fresh herbs.

Adapted from Deborah Madison’s recipe

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