Green Spring Pilaf

Green Asparagus at Market

By Cat, Mar 30, 2017 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I used to eat a lot of rice, especially as risotto, but then cut way back after learning that rice, especially brown rice, is heavily contaminated with arsenic, which is a toxic heavy metal. This contamination is largely due to growing rice in soil once used for growing cotton and heavily treated with pesticides.

Instead, I use wild rice which is native to North America – not a true rice, but very similar. I especially like wild rice in a pilaf.

I would also like to try this as a risotto, using a medium-grain rice such as Arborio.

See also: 1. Sides and Condiments Menu; 2. Rice (About): White, Brown and Wild

Green Spring Pilaf

This recipe is adapted form one in the March 29, 2017 issue of the Daily Inter Lake, originally by Arthi Subramaniam in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The greens in the original recipe included shelled edamame, which is the veggie version of soy bean – picked before it matures and dries as a seed. But it’s still soy, something I avoid because of a food sensitivity, so I substitute lima beans which I love.

Other green ingredients include asparagus – my fav spring veggie, leeks, pistachios, and dill. Other flavors include garam masala and chili flakes. The original recipe uses basmati rice – a long grain rice – but as mentioned above, I use wild rice, which is especially delicious when used with nuts as the pistachios in this recipe.

The original serves 6, but I’ve reduced it to 2 servings.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • ½ cup white or brown basmati rice, or wild rice
  • 1 leek, green part removed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced and crushed
  • scant ¼ tsp unrefined sea salt, to taste
  • 6 oz veggie or chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup lima beans, defrosted if frozen
  • ¼ lb fresh asparagus
  • 1 ½ Tbsp real butter
  • rounded ¼ tsp garam masala, or to taste
  • unrefined sea salt, to taste
  • pinch chili flakes, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp pistachios, shelled and salted (do not use color-died pistachios)
  • fresh dill, chopped finely
  • Equipment
  • bowl for presoaking brown rice
  • cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed saucepan (for pilaf)
  • small cast iron pan for toasting pistachios


  1. Prep rice: Rinse well. If using basmati, rinse then cover with cold water; if using wild rice, pre-soak it for 7 hours before beginning this recipe (see Steamed wild rice for instructions; if you don’t have 7 hours, do the first two quick-boils as in the long-cooked wild rice on the same posting, then pre-cook it about 30 minutes (don’t cook until done). Drain.
  2. Prep veggies: Thaw lima beans. For leeks, cut the white portion lengthwise and rinse well between the layers; then slice thinly, cross-wise. For asparagus, snap off the woody end, then wash the remaining stalk before cutting into 1 ½” lengths. Mince garlic clove finely, then sprinkle with scant ¼ tsp salt and crush with side of knife blade until mushy.
  3. Pilaf: Melt butter in a pot over a medium heat. Once it begins foaming, add leeks and cook for 8 minutes until softened. If using wild rice, remove the leeks and set aside.
  4. Add prepped garlic and garam masala; stir for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add prepped rice and stir to coat in the butter, adding more butter as needed to coat all the grains of rice.
  6. Add stock, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Add prepped lima beans, asparagus, and partially cooked leeks (if using wild rice). Add chili powder and salt to taste; stir gently. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to steam for 10 minutes.
  8. Finish: toast pistachios in small cast iron skillet. Turn off heat and add dill; stir for 2 minutes. Scatter nuts and dill on top of rice.


  1. Recipe by by Arthi Subramaniam in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (

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