Wednesday, May 4, 2011

PILAF, GREEK STYLE (Pilafi - Πιλάφι)

Love this rice dish!  It is a pilaf (pilafi in Greek), meaning it's cooked in broth and has vegetables or even meat mixed into it.  Various versions of pilafs are popular in the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, Greece.  I bet once upon a time there was an original recipe that got carried by ancient traders from Mediterranean coast to Mediterranean coast.  People loved it, and adapted it to suit their tastes.  So today we have all these rice pilaf variations, and as far as I am concerned they are all great.  I never say no to rice!  Greeks have a plain version of pilaf made with just broth and butter, and then they have this one.  It can be served on its own in which case I can have a whole plateful, or it can be served as a side dish with lamb, chicken or game.  It can also be used as a stuffing.  With some really minor changes it makes a great turkey stuffing, and I guess some November day I'll make it as a stuffing and show it off here.  Now, here is how to make Greek rice pilaf:


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms sliced
  • 5 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped (yes, lettuce. Some Greek dishes contain braised lettuce)
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • about 1/2 pound Italian sausage (hot if you like heat - which I don't)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, roasted
  • 3 cups boiling chicken broth
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of rice (raw, white)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • a small handful of peeled and roasted almonds for decoration


  • If your raisins are really dry place them in water to cover and let them stay in the water until they plump up and soften.
  • Place the almonds and pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast them in a preheated 350°F oven until they are aromatic and golden in color. Remove them, let them cool and reserve.
  • Remove the sausage from its casing and crumble it up.   Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and cook the sausage until it's no longer pink.  Place it onto a plate lined with paper towels and reserve it.
  • Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onion until it begins to brown slightly. 
  • Add the garlic, dill, lettuce, mushrooms and tomatoes and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the rice, raisins, pine nuts and reserved sausage and mix well. 
  • Add the broth and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on low for about twenty minutes, until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and moist.  Let the rice rest for 5 to 10 minutes.  It will absorb any liquid that is left over. You want a rice that glistens and is moist, but is not mushy, dry or runny.  
  • Place on a serving platter and decorate the top with the roasted almonds.
Then eat and enjoy!


  1. Greek Girl from QueensMay 4, 2011 at 5:33 AM

    Ahhh....rice pilaf! Such wonderful comfort food this is. My nuna loved to make it with raisins, which I loved as a kid, but these days when I make up a pot of it, both myself and the hubby prefer it without the sweetness of the raisins. Still, it is a great dish - either as a side dish or as a main meal all on its own. Thanks for sharing this one, Ana.

  2. This dish looks fantastic! I love Greek food & look forward to trying it!

  3. I just printed this and I think, I will be able to cook it, tomorrow. Thanks for this recipe.

  4. I never say no to rice either! THis looks wonderful Ana.