This green goddess vegetable rice pilaf makes a healthy meal for lunch or dinner but also an excellent side dish to go along with grilled chicken or fish.
Embarking on a Healthier Lifestyle
For the past few months, my family and I have been embarking on a whole foods based diet, full of delicious plant-based meals.
When I initially made the decision to be more conscientious about the foods we were putting into our bodies, we went all gung-ho, watching documentaries and swearing off every single animal based or processed food.
Having been raised on the meat, potato and veg diet, you can only imagine how well that went for us.
Spoiler Alert. Not so good.
Jack fruit tacos? Sounded good. Smelled terrible and tasted almost as bad. Tofu anything and everything? Not as bad as I thought but all that pressing and draining was a pain. And there's only so many chickpeas one person can eat. Bloating anyone?
Once I realized that there is more to eating a healthy diet than trying to replicate meat with poor meat substitutes, I started to embrace all the vegetables that we already love, plus discover new ones. It was only then that we really started to enjoy our new lifestyle.
Don't get me wrong. We cheat every single weekend. But we're pretty good during the week. Being healthy doesn't have to be an all or nothing kind of thing. At least for us.
If we eat clean 5 days out of the week, I'm perfectly fine with scarfing down a juicy burger on a Saturday night.
One thing I cannot cheat on is avoiding all dairy. My infant son has a milk protein allergic (same as my first born did) and since I'm nursing, I have to be incredibly strict with avoiding it or he breaks out in horrendous eczema. So said juicy burger is unfortunately cheese-free these days and doesn't come with the strawberry shake that I've got a hankerin' for.
In case you're interested, the first time I did the dairy-free thing was 5 years ago, I had no clue what I was doing and simply didn't eat dairy for 6 months.
This time around I've been trying out dairy substitutes such as cashew-based yogurts and other vegan dairy alternatives. I've been experimenting with a lot of other foods and a variety of meals, too. It's been pretty fun!
Vegetable Rice Pilaf
This rice pilaf is one that we have been making consistently for a while and it's a hit with both kids and adults (which doesn't happen enough!).
Fresh spring ingredients form the basis of this simple but delicious green goddess rice pilaf. I'm talking scallions, sugar snap peas, fresh mint, avocado and deliciously crisp asparagus topped with a creamy herbed vegan ranch.
If you're not vegan or avoiding dairy, you can of course use regular ranch dressing, or use real mayo with some garlic, dill and parsley to make a semi-homemade version.
If you eat meat, this also makes a great entree when paired with grilled chicken or fish. Saying that, I eat it as an entree without the meat and it's still very filling! It's also perfect for lunch or you can use it as a side to bring to your next barbecue or party.
It's one of my favorite weeknight meals that feels fancy and rather indulgent, but clearly isn't!
Feel Free To Use Quinoa or Brown Rice
If you want to up the health factor a little more, you can of course switch out the white rice for brown rice or quinoa. That would put it more in line with the plant based whole foods philosophy, but the creaminess of the basmati rice really is very good with this dish.
I love the addition of the asparagus on top and my kids even approve. Can you guess why? It rhymes with "makes my tee well" 🙄I'm sure the fact that they smother theirs in ranch dressing probably helps too!
Green Goddess Rice Pilaf
- ½ cup basmati rice
- 4 ounces sugar snap peas
- 3 scallions
- 1 small cucumber
- 6 ounces asparagus
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint
- 1 avocado
- 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
- ¼ cup ranch I used vegan ranch dressing
- ¼ cup pistachios (optional)
- olive oil
- Add 1 cup of water, basmati rice and a pinch of salt to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until the water is absorbed, around 15 minutes.
- Wash and dry all the vegetables. Thinly slice the sugar snap peas and scallions. Dice the cucumber. Trim about an inch off the ends of the asparagus. Pick and roughly chop the mint leaves. Halve the avocado, removing the pit. Slice lengthways. Juice the lemon.
- In small bowl, add just 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the dried parsley and the ranch dressing. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Heat a large skillet with 2 teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and let cook, undisturbed, until charred in places, 3 - 4 minutes.
- Sprinkle the asparagus with salt and pepper, toss, and cook until tender crisp, another 2 minutes.
- Fluff the cooked basmati rice with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Add the sliced sugar snap peas, scallions, diced cucumber, chopped mint leaves, remaining lemon juice and 2 teaspoon olive oil. Gently toss to combine. Taste and add extra salt and pepper as necessary.
- Divide the vegetable pilaf between large plates or bowls and top with the cooked asparagus, sliced avocado and (optional) pistachios. Drizzle with the herbed ranch dressing.