Jazzy InstantPot Wild Rice Pilaf

I got myself an InstantPot (deeply discounted during Amazon Prime days in August), and I’ve been experimenting with it. I’ve added wild rice and legumes back into my diet after eating Paleo (grain- and legume-free) for years, because my body functions better with the extra fiber. My doctor says they act as prebiotics, feeding healthy gut microbes. I feel good!

I’m loving wild rice! It’s got a nutty taste, a pleasing chewy texture, and is a native American food full of fiber.

I’m also loving InstantPot cooking. Even people who “can’t cook” can just follow the many recipes now available and come out with good food in not much time.

I’m a jazzy cook — I like to improvise from a master recipe, which this is. A pilaf is perfect for that: it’s a traditional Middle Eastern/Indian rice dish cooked in a broth, to which you add whatever you’ve got on hand that “goes with”.

fullsizeoutput_480I use the InstantPot’s Sauté function to soften a chopped onion (and/or shallots) and a couple of stalks of celery in olive oil or butter or ghee. You can add chopped garlic if you like, right before adding a cup of wild rice — garlic scorches easily. Mix well, sauté for another minute, and add 3 cups of mushroom, vegetable, or chicken broth.

I switch to Pressure Cook (high) and set the timer for 15 minutes, with the vent closed. When the timer goes off, I let it sit for 10 minutes and open the vent.

Then I stir the additions in while it’s hot! I like to add 1 cup of cubed cooked chicken, 1/2 cup pecan pieces, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1-2 cups roughly chopped baby spinach, 1 cup thinly sliced baby Portobella mushrooms, and 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley.

Mix well. The mushrooms and spinach should wilt from the hot wild rice. If not, put the lid back on the InstantPot and set it to Keep Warm.

Here’s the creative part:

  • Instead of chicken, add turkey or duck.
  • Instead of pecans, try walnuts or almond slivers or pistachios.
  • Instead of cranberries, add raisins — or sprinkle fresh pomegranate seeds just before serving for their gorgeous color, texture, and flavor.
  • Substitute chopped kale or chard (minus thick stems) or another mild green for the spinach.
  • Add any herbs you like. Sage, thyme, and rosemary would definitely work, in my opinion.
  • Adding green onions at the end adds flavor and color and texture.
  • To balance the sweet savoriness of the pilaf with cranberries, add a bit of a good tasty vinegar, lemon juice, or dry wine (not cooking wine, usually too salty). Add by the teaspoon and taste often to avoid adding too much.

Mix well. The mushrooms and spinach should wilt from the hot wild rice. If not, put the lid back on the InstantPot and set it to Keep Warm.

If there’s extra liquid, you can pour it off, add a tablespoon of chia seeds to thicken, or leave it soupy. To make it creamy, add cream cheese or sour cream to taste and stir well to melt and blend.

Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

I invite you to see what you have on hand, sense if it would fit well with the other ingredients, and experiment! Share in the comments what worked for you!

Mild green smoothie has only 5 ingredients

Usually when I make green drinks, I add a lot of ingredients. Besides a base of coconut water, I add several green veggies like celery, cucumber, kale and/or chard and/or spinach and/or parsley, garlic and/or ginger for bite and medicine, lemon or grapefruit juice, and a bunch of extras, like hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, maca, turmeric, spirulina.

Today I decided to simplify. I poured about 10 oz. of coconut water into the blender and added a thumb-size chopped chunk of peeled ginger, the juice of 1 small lemon, a small avocado, and 1 bunch of spinach. Five ingredients, blended after each addition.

It tastes mildly sweet, with just a bare hint of bite from the lemon and ginger. I think this is a green drink that everyone might like. No strong taste, and the texture is very smooth, thanks to the avocado. It’s thick enough to make the straw stand up.

No need to add fruit to make it palatable. I notice that juice bars often add bananas or apple juice to their drinks. I imagine this is in order to please the sweetness-skewed tastebuds of people accustomed to the Standard American Diet.

I don’t have anything against fruit. It’s got a lot of great nutritional benefits. But sugar is sugar, no matter the source. I’m cutting way down on it, especially the really sweet fruits, and I feel better, more stable, for it.

I have had cravings, though. I think sugar has an addictive quality.

Just part of my food evolution….