5 O’Clock Apron: Beetroot Pilaf

The second in our series of recipes extracted from Claire Thomson’s 5 O’Clock Apron, this painterly rice dish gently introduces small palates to unusual flavours and the range of toppings means the whole family can personalise to their own taste.

mrfox_Pink Rice_5oclockapron1


Serves 4

For the rice

– 250g white basmati rice

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 1 large onion, finely diced

– 3 fat cloves of garlic, finely sliced

– 2 cinnamon sticks

– 1–2 tsp each cumin, caraway and coriander seeds, ground and toasted

– salt

– 500g raw beetroot, grated (about 4 medium beetroot)

To serve

– a large handful of mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds

– ½ clove of garlic, minced

– 250ml plain Greek yoghurt

– ½ a clove of garlic, minced

– 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil, to top the yoghurt

– sumac, to sprinkle on the yoghurt (optional)

– 1 small bunch of chopped fresh dill, mint or coriander

– brown butter (optional)

– chilli flakes

– 1 lemon, cut into quarters, to squeeze at the table

Note: To make brown butter, put 75g of unsalted butter into a pan over a moderate heat to melt.

Once melted, the sediment (milk whey) should begin to collect and brown at the bottom of the pan. When the sediment is beginning to turn golden and brown, add the juice of half a lemon to stop the butter cooking. Unused brown butter can be kept in the fridge and warmed through when needed again.

  1. Give the rice a good rinse through in a sieve under cold running cold water.
  2. Put the olive oil into a heavy-bottomed medium pan (one for which you have a tight-fitting lid) over a moderate-to-low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 10 or so minutes, until translucent and soft. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a further 3 minutes or so. Add 2 teaspoons of salt.
  3. Add the washed and drained rice, then turn up the heat to moderate and move the grains around the pan to ensure they are coated with the oil, spices, onions and garlic. Toast the rice in the pan for a further minute, taking care that nothing catches and everything begins to glisten nicely.
  4. Add the raw grated beetroot. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour boiling water (from the kettle) over the beetroot and rice until the entire mix is just submerged in water. Bring to the boil, then lid the pan tightly and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. The pilaf might benefit from a gentle turning over with a big spoon halfway through cooking, to distribute the beetroot through the rice again. Lid tightly and cook until the rice is cooked through and the liquid has gone (15–20 minutes). Be brave: don’t be tempted to add more water.
  6. When the rice is cooked, put a clean tea towel under the lid, then re-seal the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes. The tea towel will remove unwanted extra moisture in the rice and make the pilaf extra-fluffy.
  7. In the meantime, assemble your extras.
  8. In a large dry frying pan, gently toast your seeds with a pinch of salt until they turn golden brown and begin to crackle. Put them in a bowl.
  9. In a separate bowl, mix the Greek yoghurt with a pinch of salt and the garlic. Slick the top of the seasoned yoghurt with some olive oil and add a good pinch of sumac, if you have it.
  10. Roughly chop your chosen herbs and put into a separate bowl.
  11. Some brown butter spooned over the rice at the table is great, but optional.
  12. To serve, spoon the rice on to a plate and add a blob of yoghurt, some herbs, toasted seeds, a spoonful of brown butter, if using, and a pinch of chilli flakes. Serve some lemon quarters alongside to squeeze.

The Five O'Clock Apron

Extracted from ‘ The Five O’ Clock Apron‘ by Claire Thomson. Published by Ebury Press. Photography by Mike Lusmore.

Read our interview with Claire on feeding kids or see more of her brilliant family recipes.


For more ideas on cooking beetroot for children, see our feature.