Summer generally means I cook less. I eat more dips, more “salads” based on beans and chopped vegetables, quick pasta dishes, a few light soups, and far too much ice cream. Today, though, we have a brief reprieve from the heat. It’s actually less than 80 degrees in my apartment. How do I maximize my cool kitchen weather? Cooking multiple dishes as once, for future consumption. Today, I made a dozen hard-boiled eggs (pullet eggs I brought home from Maine!), pancakes, and a delicious easy multi-grain pilaf. Later I might even make a pot of soup, or roasted vegetables.

Containing several whole grains and lentils, a multigrain pilaf a great refrigerator staple. It’s flexible enough that you can eat it daily, but avoid monotony by changing the flavors via vegetables and/or additional protein.  I use it several different ways:

        • tossed with raw or cooked vegetables and vinaigrette
        • shaped into balls (like onigiri)
        • as a filling for stuffed collard leaves
        • reheated as a side dish.

The grains are somewhat flexible, but I always like to keep the lentils and a little wild rice. Both add nutrients while deepening the flavor. Mixing it with nuts (see almonds in photo above), or dried fruit, yields a simple but sophisticated dish. While I haven’t done so, a pilaf can be used as a certerpiece for a DIY supper party. Set out the grains, several flavors of dressing, a variety of chopped vegetables, cooked beans, chopped hardboil egg, a little grilled fish/meat, herbs, toasted nuts, and dried fruit. Guests can pile on the toppings, and customize it to their tastes and/or dietary restrictions.

Multi-Grain Pilaf

2 T olive oil
1/2 c millet
1/2 c wild rice
1/2 c brown rice
1/2 c French green lentils
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 c water
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 t dried sage
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of chili pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a rice cooker or pot. Add the grains and lentils, and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the herbs, pepper flakes, and garlic. Mix well and add the water (use the smaller amount for a rice cooker, the larger amount for a pot). Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until tender.

Linked to: Pennywise Platter, Simple Lives Thursdays, It’s a Keeper, Frugal Fridays