Spiced Vegetable Pilaf with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

It is no secret that I LOVE my neighborhood. Inner Richmond is by far the best neighborhood in San Francisco. I'll debate you if you disagree. I've been planning a whole post, more like love letter, to Inner Richmond, which will come out eventually! However, I will admit that there could be some improvements. I wonder if there is a community board or council I could join.

Issue #1 is the poor access to cheese. This neighborhood is predominately Asian, and Asian people have a precedent of not liking cheese. That's fine. But would it be soooooo terrible for us to get one (just one!) cheese shop?! For the Asian girl that loves cheese?! I just need a place where I can pick up some fresh mozzarella, gouda, a nice parmesan, how about some shredded cheddar?! How is ChoCheeseBoards going to take off without proper access to cheese?!

Issue #2 is that the only Non-Asian grocery store in the Clement St. corridor is Smart and Final, which has a weird assortment of goods and items typically come in bulk. No, I don't need a 5 pound package of ground beef or a gallon tub of cream cheese (debatable). I'm also ignoring that there is a Safeway about a 20 minute walk away... too far. Can we get a Trader Joe's at 9th and Clement, please????!

So, when I decided that I was going to make this pilaf dish for a dinner party on Sunday, I found myself in a pickle. Where is the basmati rice?! I was sure that they would sell it at our go-to Asian store. Nope. I almost bought this bag described as "extra fancy white long grain rice". What does that even mean??? Extra Fancy? What is just plain fancy rice? I recruited Reuben to help me on Mission Basmati. We needed to be in Oakland in 3 hours. We went back to Smart and Final to take another look at their very limited grain aisle. There was a 20lb bag of basmati rice and we decided to just buy it. It's a big bag. I currently don't have a clever storage solution for it so it's just sitting on the floor of our kitchen, saying "I'm going to be here for a while".

We are going to be eating basmati rice for a very long time... eh, it's not the worst thing. It's delicious and technically a lot healthier for you than the jasmine rice that I typically make. I ended up doubling this recipe for the dinner party. 2 cups of rice turns into A LOT of rice here. We were able to make a giant platter of pilaf to safely transport to Oakland and still save some leftovers to have for work lunches. I recently was asked by a friend if I could make more recipes that one could easily make for work lunches. You ask and I will deliver! This pilaf works as a beautiful offering for a potluck or a yummy dish to meal prep on Sunday and enjoy all week. It's easy to throw together, filling, satisfying, and won't leave you battling a serious food coma at your desk.

The colors of the rice, carrots, and cauliflower are just so gorgeous together. If you see some rainbow carrots at your farmer's market, BUY 'EM. The carrots are sweet like candy, tossed with honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little sumac. It acts as a sweet balance to the spicy earthy flavors of the cauliflower, seasoned with turmeric, garam masala, and cumin. I make this yogurt sauce about once a week, it's so good and works as a creamy refreshing binder to hold the whole dish together. Cooking is about balance. Once you hit salty, sweet, spicy, sour, you got yourself a great plate of food!

If you guys have any requests for what you'd like to see more of on EatChoFood, please let me know in the comments!

Happy almost weekend!


Spiced Vegetable Pilaf with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

serves 4-6

Pilaf:

1 C basmati rice

1/3 C orzo

3 C chicken stock

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 C chopped parsley + more for garnish

 

Vegetables:

1 bunch of carrots (6-9 medium carrots)

1/4 C honey

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sumac

1/2 head of cauliflower

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin

oilive oil

salt and pepper 

 

Lemon Yogurt Sauce:

1/2 C plain greek yogurt

1 tbsp water

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp sumac

Steps:

1. Start by making your rice pilaf. Add chicken stock, turmeric powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to a pot. Mix to combine and bring to a boil. Add rice and orzo to the stock and lower heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 20 mins. Remove pot from heat and allow to sit covered for another 10 mins. Fluff with a fork, mix in parsley, and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/2" thick slices at an angle. Toss carrot slices in a medium bowl with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, sumac, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Arrange carrot slices on half of a foil lined baking sheet.

4. Cut the cauliflower into medium sized pieces, about 1/2" thick floret slices. Toss cauliflower in a medium bowl with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Arrange cauliflower on the other half of the baking tray.

5. Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer for optimal roasting! Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender and getting slightly crispy on the edges.

6. Make the lemon yogurt sauce by mixing greek yogurt, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sumac. Adjust thickness by adding more or less water or yogurt.

7. Assembly the pilaf by adding a big scoop of rice to a plate or bowl, top with spiced vegetables, and then drizzle the lemon yogurt sauce over it. You could also make one big platter of this to share!