Hunger inspires some of my favorite recipe ideas. Everyone has those days where there’s “nothing in the fridge”, you’re hungry and feeling a little lazy on the cooking front.
This happened to me last week. I was home by myself all day, and as noon approached and I hadn’t yet eaten anything, it was time to scour the fridge and the pantry to see what I could come up with. All I had was some wild rice, a big, clunky squash and some celery and onions.
It was time to break out my favorite cooking method: Roasting. Roasting vegetables is the simplest, easiest, most brainless way of cooking vegetables. The beautiful thing is that roasting them at a high heat brings out a vegetable’s sweetness by caramelizing its natural sugars. Just pop them in the oven and boom, 20 minutes later you have tasty little morsels of goodness.
This thyme roasted vegetable and wild rice pilaf was a lovely lunch on its own, but would also work perfectly as a side dish for any holiday meal or potluck. At holiday time, it is often important to be sensitive to family and friends’ dietary needs and preferences. The beauty of this dish is that it is vegetarian, gluten-free, and it can easily be made vegan. Virtually any vegetable can be subbed in for the ones I used, so its versatility also lends itself to this time of year.
Thyme Roasted Vegetable and Wild Rice Pilaf
2 cups wild rice
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 cups peeled and seeded squash (butternut, acorn or kabocha), diced into 1 inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cook wild rice according to your brand’s package directions.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the vegetables and garlic and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and mix to evenly coat them. Spread the vegetables into one layer.
Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables have softened and begin to brown on the edges.
When the rice is finished cooking, gently mix in the roasted vegetables and Parmesan cheese into it.
Note: If you want to keep this dish vegan, leave out the butter and the Parmesan cheese.