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Northwest-Inspired Rice Pilaf

Turkey, gravy, pumpkin pie and a day of just the food. There’s no cheesy figurines, shopping fights (saved for the day after) or over commercialization. Thanksgiving is alllll about the food. The glorious, glorious food. It is, no doubt, my most favoritest holiday in the whole year. Oh yeah, baby, bring on the sweet potatoes.

Think Thanksgiving is hard? Betcha I can show you it’s easier than you think.

Now, you must know that I am married to the most awesome man… who didn’t grow up with the awesome sauce we know as Thanksgiving. It’s all good, though, as over the years, we’ve discovered what he does and doesn’t like. One thing he is not crazy about out? Stuffing and dressing. Let’s just forget that this dish is probably my favorite thing on the Thanksgiving table. Love wins, and I’ve been on the lookout for a side dish that he likes too (also, he doesn’t like gravy or mashed potatoes… we really should have gone over this before we exchanged rings, I know. He’s worth it. ^_^) I’ve tried all kinds of dressings, stuffings, and potatoes. In the last couple years, I’ve come across a couple recipes, and decided to combine them and make my own magic.

Northwest-Inspired Rice Pilaf

Secondly, you should know that I live in the northwest, near the town of Portlandia. And yes, I DID ask my waiter the other day if they oatmeal on the menu was old-fashioned or steel cut oats. Hey, I’m spending good money, so I wanted to know. I did not, however, go visit the farm that produces the milk they were using in my pancakes. So there.

Living in the northwest has it’s benefits. Like food. We have an embarrassment of selection when it comes to produce, dairy, meats and other awesomeness like hazelnuts. There are farmer’s markets all over the metro area, making procuring fresh ingredients extremely accessible. There are more foodies per capita around these parts, so it’s wayyyyy fun to geek out with them on a regular basis. (Like this guy.)

Pilaf Ingredients

So, I’m honored to be a part of a food blogger feature called “Ultimate Oregon Thanksgiving“. Now, I technically totally live across the river, but I grew up in Oregon, and I’m about 10 minutes from the border. So, my dish is a “Northwest-Inspired” Rice Pilaf. Almost all of the ingredients are local. One of the highlights? Bob’s Red Mill Country Rice Blend. It is fabulous. Seriously, go get some.


Oh Bob’s Red Mill, I do love you. LOVE. True story: I almost ran right over Bob in the Milwaukie store. I’m sure it was the highlight of his day, coming around the corner of the flour aisle with his hot coffee, almost colliding with me. I think I stood there and stared like he was the pope. Only way cooler…

This recipe has been on my mind for two years, and this week, I FINALLY got it right. Oh, it was ok, and I made it last year, to great reviews. But this week? I totally nailed it. I hope you like it as much as I do. Even better? I got a “thumbs up” from my girlfriend’s daughter (she’s 10).

I hope you and your family enjoy it if you choose to put it on your holiday (or any for that matter) table. And if you do, please come back and tell me how it went? I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

Psst… I’ve got a video tutorial showing how easy it is to make this rice pilaf. Right this way.

Northwest-Inspired Rice Pilaf
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adapted from and inspired by New York Times Wild Rice, Almond & Mushroom Stuffing or Pilaf: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/16/health/nutrition/16recipehealth.html
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 12
  • 4-6 cups cooked Bob's Red Mill Country Rice, cooked in homemade chicken stock (or commercial low sodium stock)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups large dice butternut squash
  • ½ cup celery, large dice (about 1 large stalk)
  • 1 cup carrots, large dice (about 2 medium)
  • 1 large sweet onion, large dice
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thickly
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (three large pinches of salt should do it)
  1. Cook rice according to directions. Once cool, put rice in large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil to keep it from clumping.
  2. Drizzle butternut squash with olive oil, toss to coat and spread onto baking sheet, roast at 450F for 30 min (stir halfway through), remove and let cool.
  3. Drizzle mushrooms, celery, carrots and onion with olive oil, toss to coat, spread onto baking sheet, and roast at 475F for 20 min (stir halfway through), remove and let cool slightly.
  4. While vegetables are roasting, add herbs and salt and pepper to rice and mix well.
  5. Once cool enough to handle, add all ingredients to large bowl, mix well, pour into oiled casserole dish.
  6. Cover in foil, and bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes until heated through.


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