Very few One-Pot-Meals are actually a complete meal. Usually they are carb and/or meat heavy so to balance it out, you need a salad on the side. This pilaf is loaded with vegetables so it truly is dinner made in one pot with an “A” grade nutrition rating. And it’s unintentionally healthy with only 330 calories per serving.
“Most One Pot Meals are so loaded with carbs and protein that you need a side salad to make a complete meal. This is truly a complete meal in a One Pot.”
There seems to be a One Pot Meal craze going on at the moment. And I highly approve because it’s in my DNA to find shortcuts at every opportunity. However, I find that most One Pot Meals are loaded with carbs and protein so in order to make it a complete meal, you need to make a side salad.
Am I alone in this thinking? My interpretation of a “complete meal” is one that has a good balance of protein and vegetables, with carbs being optional (though inevitably present in any recipe I make, being the Carb Monster that I am).
This pilaf is a classic example of a One Pot Meal, my way. I make a traditional chicken pilaf, but I load it up with vegetables to make it a complete meal. So it’s not too one dimensional, I add crumbled feta which adds a great burst of saltiness and flavour, as well as a drizzle of lemon juice to freshen up the dish.
I made this pilaf using vegetables that I happened to have in stock but you really can use whatever vegetables you want. You just need to ensure that you add it to the pilaf at the right time so it cooks without overcooking. I often make this by adding dollops of frozen spinach in it (thawed and excess water squeezed out), just to add even more greens in it.
This recipe has a nutrition grade rating of “A” and only 370 calories per serving (assuming 6 servings). Though only 1 cup of rice is used, you will be surprised how far it goes – this recipe makes a lot!
- 10 oz / 300g chicken breast (1 large one) (see notes)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 brown onion , diced
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 3 zucchinis , cut into 1.5cm/0.5cm cubes
- 3 bunches asparagus , cut into 5cm/2 inch pieces
- 1 small lemon
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 2 oz / 60 g feta cheese , crumbled (see notes)
- 1 cup long grain or basmati rice (see notes for substitutes)
- 1 3/4 cups chicken stock (broth)
- Salt and pepper
- Parsley , finely chopped
- Wedges of lemon
Heat olive oil in a large pot (preferably non stick) over medium high heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until the onion is softened and starting to brown - about 2 minutes.
Add rice and stir to coat the grains with the oil, then add chicken stock. Bring to simmer then turn down heat to medium low.
Place chicken on top of the rice (partially submerged), then cover pot and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove lid and add peas and zucchinis (don't stir, just scatter them across the top), then cover and cook for a further 5 to 8 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed and the rice is just slightly undercooked. It might take longer if you are using a smaller pot.
Remove the chicken and set aside to rest for a few minutes. Scatter the asparagus over the top, then place the lid back on and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until rice is al dente (cooked but still firm to touch), then remove the pot from the stove and let stand for 5 minutes.
Shred the chicken with a fork (or your fingers, if cool enough), then add back into the pot with the resting rice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Squeeze juice of the lemon over the rice.
Gently stir the rice to fluff it up and toss the ingredients through.
Spoon onto serving plates, scatter with feta and parsley (if using), and lemon wedges on the side.
1. If you are using 2 small chicken breasts instead of 1 large one, remove the chicken a few minutes earlier otherwise it will overcook.
2. The best rice to use for this is long grain or basmati rice which are not sticky. The best substitutes are brown rice, jasmine or medium grain rice. Short grain rice will also work but the pilaf will be stickier than it should be. This recipe is not suited to risotto rice.
3. I like Danish feta, but greek or ordinary is fine too. Goats cheese also works great.
4. Nutrition assumes this serves 6.