Other than the grain/stock/oil combo, variations on the pilaf are infinite. You can add almost anything in terms of vegetables, fruit, nuts, meat, and/or meat substitutes (tofu, mushrooms). But the rule of thumb for add-ons is that they need to be dryish and chopped into small pieces or diced. If you add very moist add-ons, like tomatoes or zucchini, you may need to decrease the liquid proportionately. Also, if your pieces are too large and/or raw, they might not cook fully by the time the grain is finished cooking. The goal is bite-sized, tender add-ons.
Many famous world dishes are actually pilafs. Risotto is a pilaf. So is jambalaya. And paella, and Spanish rice, the tomato-rice pilaf served so often with Mexican entrees. So is arroz con pollo and Indian biryani. In cooking the grain WITH the stock and the oil, the grain absorbs the wonderful salty savoriness as it cooks. Those flavors--and any others you use--permeate each grain. So easy. So good and nothing to it once you get the hang of it.
Tonight I made my family quinoa-almond-raisin pilaf with turmeric [photo, above]. I was making a Mediterranean themed supper (broiled hoki with kalamata/tomato/oregano salsa, and a chopped salad heavy on the sweet peppers and feta cheese), so wanted to round out the salty flavors with a bit of sweet. It was a big hit and simply a matter of throwing the items in the rice cooker, although any sturdy pot will do.
The chart below will provide some ideas for what might be fun, but feel free to pimp your own pilaf.
|Choose at least one from each Grain/Stock/Oil:|
|Rice, short grain||Beef||Butter|
|Rice, brown||Dashi (fish and kombu seaweed)||Sesame|
|Barley||Coconut milk (will not need Oil if using)|
|Add-ons (Use as many as you like, and ad-lib your own ideas):|
|Herb Group||Cheese Group|
|Lamb||Peas||Other dried fruit, diced||Almonds||Basil||Feta|
|Beef||Tomatoes (may need to reduce liquid proportionately)||Apples||Pumpkin seeds||Curry spices|
|Pork||Green beans||Pears||Pine nuts||Ginger|
|Fish or shellfish, chopped||Other beans, pre-cooked|
|Beef||Ripe or green olives|
|Fish or shellfish,
|Tofu, raw or fried|