This British Broad Bean and Pea Rice Pilaf recipe is perfect for a fresh spring family meal. It is packed with wholesome green veggies and herbs - broad beans, peas, courgettes [zucchini], bell peppers, mint. thyme, parsley, and perhaps some chives or spring onions- and along with rice it can be quickly prepared in one pan. Of course, you can switch out any of the vegetables or herbs for ones you prefer more. A pilaf is an easy budget-friendly rice dish that is perfect for using up any seasonal veggies that you have to hand and is ideal for those days when you need something quick but sustaining.
Pair up your pilaf with some crusty bread for extra carby comfort or a fresh salad for even more wholesome green goodness. We use long-grain rice as it cooks quickly but you can replace it with a brown or whole-grain rice but you will have to adjust the cooking times and perhaps add extra liquid. This pilaf can be a no-oil vegetable pilaf by replacing the margarine or oil with vegetable stock.
Origin of pea and bean meals
Our pilaf recipe makes good use of budget-friendly peas and beans. Pea and bean meals have been sustaining people for hundreds if not thousands of years as they compliment each other beautifully.
Broad beans, also known as fava beans, have been part of the British diet since the medieval times, but probably much longer, as they have been cultivated for thousands of years in various parts of the world. Other historic names for broad beans include Celtic beans, horse beans, field beans, and tic beans. Broad beans thrive well in cold environments so can be successfully grown over the winter periods, and they also dry well so perfect for long-term storage.
Likewise, peas are also a British favourite featuring in many old recipes throughout the centuries and have been sustaining people for thousands of years. One of the first British recorded cookbooks dated 1390 The Forme Of Cury has a few pea recipes including pea puree and German style peas.
During the medieval ages British peasants commonly cooked staple dishes of peas and beans as they were easy to obtain, relatively inexpensive, and provided lots of protein and valuable nutrition. As meat was so expensive it was rarely eaten by peasants, who were the ordinary working folk, and so peas and beans were indispensable alternatives.
Popular medieval dishes were pease pottage which is very similar to our British Mushy Peas recipe and our Old-Fashioned Pea Soup and pottage stew meals. During the medieval era anything that was cooked in a pot was classed as a pottage. Do have a look at our Medieval Inspired Pottage Stew which is a fun stew devised by our history loving daughter when she was a teenager!
Peas and beans are two of the best veggie foods for vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based diets. Although arguably these valuable legumes are the perfect food for anyone, on any diet, except of course those who have allergies or intolerances.
Origin of Pilaf
A pilaf is a tasty rice dish cooked in stock or broth and often includes onions, herbs, vegetables, or meat. The rice, and perhaps some of the other ingredients, is usually sautéed in butter or oil before adding the liquid, which helps it become fluffy and keeps the grains separate. A pilaf is a versatile dish that varies in ingredients and flavours depending on which culture is preparing it.
The origin of pilaf (also known as pilau or pilav) is often traced back to ancient Persia, now known as modern-day Iran. Pilaf has been around for centuries and different variations are found in different cultures:
- Persian Roots: The earliest references to dishes resembling pilaf date back to the ancient Persian Empire, where rice was cultivated and became a staple in their cuisine. The Persians mastered the art of cooking rice in a variety of ways, including the pilaf method.
- Spread Along Trade Routes: From Persia, the concept of pilaf spread along trade routes to Central Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. Each region adapted the dish to include local ingredients and cooking traditions.
- Cultural Variations: As pilaf traveled, it took on various forms and names. For example, in India, it became known as pulao or biryani, incorporating local spices. In the Ottoman Empire, it evolved into different regional variations of pilav.
- Modern Adaptations: Today, pilaf is a global dish, with each culture having its unique version, from the Spanish paella to the Caribbean rice and beans. The basic technique of cooking rice in a fat before cooking in a seasoned broth has remained a traditional method.
How to prepare
Our pilaf is easy to adapt so you can switch out any vegetables for those that you have to hand, need using up, or just prefer. Especially good are reduced-price veggies, veggies languishing in the refrigerator, or even if you grow your own veggies and have a spring or summer bounty use some of those. Simply dice the veggies into small even sizes so that they cook consistently.
Also, if fresh or frozen broad beans [fava beans] are not your favourite then you can switch those out for any cooked dried beans, or perhaps use fresh edamame beans.
The long-grain rice can be switched out for a wholemeal, whole-grain, or brown rice variety but you will have to go with the rice cooking instructions stated on the package as a guide to how long to cook the pilaf and keep an eye on the liquid levels as more may be required.
Step 1: Melt the margarine, or heat the oil, or instead heat ½ cup of vegetable stock if a no-oil pilaf is required. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, courgette, and broad beans, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
Step 2: Next stir through the fresh parsley, mint leaves, and bay leaf.
Step 3: Add the rice and peas, and season with salt and black pepper.
Step 4: Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
Step 5: Pour in the hot vegetable stock, stir, and bring to a gentle boil.
Step 6: Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Step 7: Next place a lid over the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
Step 8: Turn off the heat but leave the covered pan on the cooker for a further 10 minutes as it will continue to cook using the residual heat.
Step 9: Remove the lid and test the rice for doneness. The rice should be cooked but if not pop the lid over and leave for a further 5 minutes.
Step 10: Fluff up the rice with a fork, and check the seasoning. Add extra salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
Step 11: Serve the pea and broad bean pilaf with extra fresh herbs - a few chopped chives or spring [green] onions are a nice addition. A dollop of plant-based mayonnaise or sour cream is also very tasty.
Chill cooked rice quickly [within an hour if possible], and place in the refrigerator within a covered container, for 2-3 days although cooked and chilled rice is best eaten quickly so plan to use it the next day if possible or freeze it soon after it has cooled.
Freeze cooled rice by adding it to a freezer and food safe container or food bag, and storing for 2-3 months. Frozen rice can be used from frozen as it will quickly defrost as it is cooked.
As cooked rice can develop harmful spores if not quickly cooled and chilled, it is very important to reheat rice to an internal temperature of 75C [165F]. A simple food thermometer is an inexpensive and a really good purchase for peace of mind. Alternatively, when reheating rice make sure that is is piping hot throughout.
To reheat rice pilaf you can use a microwave or a non-stick pan such as a wok or deep frying pan, or a skillet. Often adding a little water or vegetable broth can help reheat the rice and prevent sticking to the pan, and stir the rice often over a medium-high heat to ensure even reheating.
For useful information and guidance on storing and reheating rice refer to this article over on Gov.UK and for further information have a look at this article from University of Wisconsin-Madison which has advice on the safe handling of cooked rice.
Yes, rice, peas, beans, and vegetables are fine for gluten-free diets as they are naturally gluten-free. Although do check that any stock, broth, margarine, seasonings and additional ingredients that you add to your pilaf are labelled as gluten-free.
A pilaf is a rice dish where the rice is first sautéed in fat, often with onions, before being cooked in a flavored broth. This technique helps the grains to become coated in fat, leading to a distinct, less sticky texture when compared to other rice dishes. Here's a quick breakdown:
Sautéing First: In a pilaf, the rice is typically sautéed in oil or butter, often with onions or other aromatics, before adding the cooking liquid. This initial step is crucial and sets pilaf apart from other rice dishes.
Flavored Cooking Liquid: The rice is then cooked in a broth or stock, which can be flavored with herbs, spices, or vegetables. This infuses the rice with more depth of flavor.
Texture: Pilaf aims for each grain of rice to be separate and fluffy, not sticky or clumped together. This is partly achieved through the sautéing process and the ratio of liquid used.
Variety of Ingredients: While a pilaf primarily focuses on the rice, other ingredients like vegetables, meats, or dried fruits can be added, making it a versatile and balanced dish.
In contrast, other one-pot rice dishes might involve cooking rice directly in a liquid without the initial sautéing step, or they might aim for a different texture, like the creaminess in a risotto. Pilaf stands out for its unique preparation method and the distinct, flavorful, and fluffy rice it produces.
Broad beans are also known as fava beans and are a type of green, plump legume that are used around the world. They can be purchased in various different forms:
Fresh Broad Beans: These are the young, tender beans harvested directly from the pod. They have a slightly sweet, earthy flavour and a creamy texture. Fresh broad beans are perfect for salads, rice dishes, or sautéed dishes.
Dried Broad Beans [may be labelled as fava beans]: When dried, these beans are harder and need soaking and cooking for longer compared to fresh. They're ideal for stews or soups. If you are using dried broad beans for the pilaf recipe make sure that you have pre-cooked them before adding to the recipe.
Frozen Broad Beans: This option is very convenient as frozen broad beans have been blanched and frozen shortly after harvesting, which preserves their freshness and flavour. They're great for quick cooking, as they can be cooked from frozen, and can be used in a variety of recipes, such as pilafs, risottos, soups and stews.
Canned Broad Beans: These are pre-cooked and ready to use, making them a great time-saver. While they might lack a bit of the fresh bean's texture, they still offer a lovely flavour and work well in recipes where the beans are more of a complement, such as adding an extra wholesome veggie, rather than the star of a meal.
You can use any of the above broad bean types in our pilaf recipe but do pre-cook dried broad beans before adding to the recipe.
* You can replace any of the vegetables for those that you prefer, or any any vegetable you have to hand and needs using up, reduced or special buy vegetables, home-grown vegetables, etc.
* Frozen mixed veggies are idea for this pilaf although do use the same amount of veggies as specified within the recipe. Also ensure that the veggies are diced or in small even-sized pieces so that they cook evenly.
* You can switch out some or all of the fresh vegetables for tinned or canned vegetables.
*This recipe uses frozen broad beans but fresh broad beans or similar, such as frozen edamame [soya] beans could be used instead. Alternatively replace the fresh or frozen beans with cooked dried beans.
* You can switch out any of the fresh herbs and use those that you like best. Additionally, you can use dried herbs instead, and add extra flavours in the form of your favourite spices and seasonings.
* The long-grain rice can be replaced with basmati, or whole-grain or brown rice varieties but do keep in mind that brown rice tends to require a longer cooking time so the pilaf will require additional cooking. Also, you will likely need to add extra liquid before and perhaps during cooking to prevent the rice from sticking. Consult your rice package instructions for guidance.
* Instead of fresh onion and garlic you can use the dried varieties - about a few heaped teaspoons of dried garlic and dried onion. This is a great way for adding a quick flavour boost.
You can add any spices, herbs, seasonings or flavours that you like to the pilaf as you can tailor it to your own flavour preferences.
We have used fresh herbs so that we can highlight the fresh veggie flavours but ingredients such as garlic powder, onion powder, spices such as paprika, cayenne pepper, chilli pepper, cumin or coriander powder, dried herbs such as Italian mixed herbs, French style mixed herbs, dried basil, dried parsley, dried thyme, dried oregano, or spice mixes such as curry powder, fajita powder, Ras el Hanout, Harissa, Chinese 5 spice, Dukkha, etc.
Examples of extra flavours are soy sauce, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, white miso paste, nutritional yeast flakes, mustard powder, etc. Experiment and add your favourite seasonings.
Long-grain rice is a type of rice with long, thin grains that cook up fluffy and separate. It's known for its mild flavour and is great for absorbing the tastes of other ingredients in the recipe. It can come simply labelled as long-grain rice or as popular varieties such as Basmati and Jasmine rice. It's perfect for dishes where you want the rice grains to stay distinct and not stick together, as well as to cook quickly.
Yes, rinsing the rice under running fresh water washes away excess starch from the surface of the rice grains. This helps prevent the rice from becoming too sticky or clumpy when cooked, and ensures that the rice grains remain separate and fluffy.
Rinsing the rice also helps to clean the rice, removing any dust, dirt, small stones or grit, or impurities that might be on the grains.
It's easy to rinse the rice as the rice can be placed into a sieve and then rinsed under the cold water tap until the water runs clear, and then it’s ready to be used in your recipe.
You can use basmati rice, brown rice or whole-grain rice, jasmine rice, wild rice [which is actually a grass seed rather than a rice], or Arborio rice which is the type of rice generally used for risottos. However, do consult the rice packaging for specific preparation instructions as they may take longer to cook and require extra liquid. Also a different rice will result in the pilaf having a different texture and flavour such as if you use a brown or whole-grain rice the pilaf will be more chewier in texture, with a nutty and earthy flavour.
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***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Vegetable, Bean and Pea Rice Pilaf
- Large non-stick pan or skillet or a wok, with lid
- 1 tablespoon margarine or oil [or replace with ½ cup [125ml] of veggie stock/broth, adding extra as necessary]
- 1 medium onion [diced, about 125grams prepared]
- 4 garlic cloves [diced]
- 1 large courgette [zucchini] [diced, about 200 grams after courgette prepared]
- 1 bell pepper [diced]
- 150 grams broad beans [fresh or frozen]
- 225 grams long grain rice [rinsed under fresh running water and then drained]
- 225 grams peas [fresh or frozen]
- 1 bay leaf
- 15 grams fresh mint [or 2 teaspoons dried mint]
- 15 grams fresh parsley [or 2 teaspoon dried parsley]
- 1 sprig fresh thyme [or 2 teaspoons of dried thyme]
- 600 millilitres vegetable stock [hot, using hot stock just means the pilaf will be cooked quicker!]
- extra fresh mint, parsley, and chopped chives if liked, or sliced spring onions [green onions]
- Melt the margarine, heat the oil, or bring to a gentle boil the ½ cup vegetable stock.1 tablespoon margarine or oil
- Add the onions, garlic, pepper, courgette, bell pepper and broad beans. Over a medium heat cook for 8 minutes, stir frequently. [If using vegetable stock instead of oil then you can place a lid over the pan but do stir frequently and add small amounts of extra stock if necessary to prevent sticking to the pan]1 medium onion, 4 garlic cloves, 1 large courgette [zucchini], 1 bell pepper, 150 grams broad beans
- Next, add the rice and peas and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.225 grams long grain rice, 225 grams peas
- Add the bay leaf and the fresh [or dried] herbs. Stir through ¾ teaspoon of salt and a good grinding of black pepper.1 bay leaf, 15 grams fresh mint, 15 grams fresh parsley, 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Give it all a good mix and pour in the hot vegetable stock.600 millilitres vegetable stock
- Bring to the boil, add a lid over the pan, and turn the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat off but leave the rice on the cooker stove top for a further 10 minutes as it will continue to cook within the residual heat. Don't remove the pan lid.
- The liquid should be soaked up and the rice cooked but if not just pop the lid back on and leave for an extra few minutes until the rice is soft. [If you think that the rice needs a few minutes extra cooking and the liquid has been soaked up just add about a half cup of boiling water, stir it through and add the lid, and cook for a further 5-10 minutes over a medium heat, and check to see if its soft.]
- Give the rice a good stir and fluff up with a fork. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig.
- Check the seasoning and add extra salt and pepper to taste.
- Scatter over extra fresh herbs if liked. Chopped chives are a particularity tasty garnish, as are a few sliced spring onions [green onions]. We like to add a small dollop of plant-based mayonnaise or Oatley creme fraiche once served onto plates.Enjoy with a wedge of crusty bread such as French baguette and/or a nice fresh salad.extra fresh mint, parsley, and chopped chives if liked, or sliced spring onions [green onions]
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Leftovers should be placed in the refrigerator as soon as they have cooled [preferably within an hour], and can be kept for a few days or freeze for 2-3 months.
- Reheat the pilaf in the microwave until piping hot throughout and steaming. Or within a non-stick pan and reheat over a medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until piping hot and steaming throughout. A little extra water can be used to prevent sticking.
- Any of the vegetables can be replaced with your choice of vegetable, although do dice each veggie to similar small sizes. Frozen mixed veggies or canned veggies can be used if preferred.
- We used long-grain rice which cooks quickly but you can use any type of rice as long as you take into consideration that different types of rice may take longer to cook than stated on our recipe and may also require extra liquid.
- For more recipe notes and FAQ's do have a look at our recipe notes and FAQ section above this recipe.
Prepared our Vegetable, Bean and Pea Rice Pilaf? We would love to know how you got on with the recipe and whether you added extra flavours or adapted the recipe. Drop us a comment below and click the star ratings. Thanks so much, love Jacq x