Filling, nutritious, and aromatic Swiss Chard Rice Pilaf is a great way to use these delicious leafy greens!
Swiss chard, also known as silverbeet, is probably my favorite green leafy vegetable. I love the mildly earthy taste (more so than spinach but much less earthy than beetroot greens, for example) and tender texture when cooked.
Along with the more familiar spinach, it is used extensively in Middle Eastern cuisine. It can be used in salads, soups, and can even be stuffed like cabbage leaves. Even when you simply sauté it with garlic and red pepper flakes, it comes out great. Here is another way to use it: cooked into a nicely spiced rice pilaf!
You can use almost any type of rice for this. The shorter the grain of rice, the more ‘sticky’ and less fluffy and separate the rice grains will be. I mostly use Egyptian medium grain rice but longer grain rice like basmati works great, too. If you are using brown rice, however, you’ll need to add a few splashes more of liquid and boil a few minutes longer before covering the pot.
Serve this pilaf topped with some toasted pine nuts or almonds and with a salad or vegan yogurt on the side. And if you can’t get swiss chard, spinach or kale also make a delicious pilaf!
- 2 cups rice
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced (or 2 large leeks or 3-4 shallots)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon fennel
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3½ cups warm vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- zest of half a lemon
- 1lb (around 450g) swiss chard, finely shredded (leaves only)
- Rinse and drain the rice a few times, then cover with lukewarm water and let soak for around 5-10 minutes.
- In a nonstick pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and sauté the onions with just a pinch of salt until they get soft, around 5 minutes. Some color on them is ok, even preferable! While that's going on, drain the rice and have it ready next to you. Add the garlic to the onions and sauté for another minute.
- Now add the coriander, cumin, allspice, oregano, fennel, turmeric, and black pepper and stir around for 10 seconds before adding the shredded swiss chard. Cook the chard for 3-4 minutes, allowing any excess water evaporate.
- Now add the drained rice. Stir gently to incorporate and coat the rice in the oil and seasonings. Add in the vegetable broth, bay leaf, salt, and lemon zest and let the rice come to a boil with the lid just slightly off the pot. After 5 minutes, you'll notice that the level of broth is now just below the surface of the rice and bubbles are popping through. (If this isn't the case, let it boil a few minutes more.) Cover the pot tightly with the lid and put the heat underneath on the lowest possible setting. Cook undisturbed (no peeking or stirring!) for 24 minutes.
- After 24 minutes have elapsed, remove the lid and gently fold and fluff the rice with a spatula or a rice paddle. Then cover it again and let it sit off the heat for 5 minutes to finish it off. Serve with toasted pine nuts or almonds and a simple cucumber and tomato salad.
-Make sure the lid to your pot has no holes in it. If it does, plug them with a little piece of aluminum foil to ensure proper steaming of the rice.