Dinspo – Lamb, Silverbeet and Chickpea Rice pilaf

I bought a new slow cooker cookbook during the week. Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks are always winners, and this one is a dense tome, with two hundred slow cooker recipes. I was immediately drawn to the lamb section, because there is nothing better than beautifully soft, slow cooked lamb in the Winter months. I was excited to try a recipe out this past weekend, secretly hoping the weather would be cold and rainy to suit my slow cooker mood. Alas, it was mild and breezy on Sunday, so while I didn’t feel as Wintry as I hoped while I cooked my first recipe, my clean washing did dry in under four hours on the clothesline, which in late May is unusual (thanks global warming, I guess?).

One of the first lamb recipes I flicked to when I opened the book was this Lamb pilaf. Historically, rice dishes are not my strong suit. I don’t know why – they’re either gluggy or flavourless or a combination of the two. But in the slow cooker, this recipe seemed like it could not fail. And I pleased to say it (and I) did not! It was a complete success!

Lamb, spinach and chickpea rice pilaf
Prep and cook time: 8 hours approx.
Serves six.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 kg boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2cm pieces (I used 1kg of lamb steaks)
1 large brown onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons chilli powder (I omitted the chilli powder for fussy, small child reasons)
3 cups chicken stock
1 bunch silverbeet, trimmed and chopped
400 grams canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
100 grams raisins
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

– Heat half the oil in a saucepan on medium heat and cook the lamb in batches until it is browned all over. Transfer to the slow cooker when done.
– Heat remaining oil in saucepan and cook the garlic and onions, stirring occasionally for about five minutes or until fragrant.
– Add the ground spices and cook for a further one minute.
– Stir in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to the boil.
– Transfer to the slow cooker and cook on low for about seven hours.
– Stir in rice and chickpeas, and place the silverbeet on top at hour seven and cook on high for a further fifty minutes until the rice is soft.
– Use a fork to stir the silverbeet through the pilaf.
– Serve topped with pine nuts raisins and fresh coriander.

– I used slivered almonds instead of pine nuts because of my daughter’s nut allergy (which doesn’t include almonds).
– I cooked this on high for about four hours, rather than cooking it on low for a longer stretch of time. At the two and a half hour mark I put the rice, silverbeet and chickpeas in and the pilaf still came out beautifully cooked and flavoursome.
– I also added sliced mushrooms when I added the stock mixture to the lamb in the slow cooker, just for a bit of extra iron.
– You don’t have to top it with fresh coriander, obviously. You could use fresh continental parsley if you’re one of those people who hates coriander. I happen to enjoy it, so CORIANDER FOR EVERYONE HERE.
– This really does make enough for six people, so it would be great for a dinner party or a big family meal. Be prepared to eat pilaf for DAYS.

This cookbook was such a worthwhile investment and I’m already planning what to try next weekend!

Until next time,

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