I’ll keep on cooking: Pilaf with tomato, bell pepper, zucchini and feta on top

Two small Ziplock bags full of goooood juices. And a cup of braised veggies.

That inspired me to make this Pilaf with tomato, bell pepper and stir fried zucchini and feta on top.



As a surprise, Mr. Eats ordered a real Dutch oven for me. A huge one, 21 inch, with feet and a handle to use it outdoors. On those moments I’m not only happy with him, but also with living in California. The weather’s always good to experiment with outdoor cooking.

So that next Sunday I kept it simple. I had bought 4 chicken legs, some onions, a red bell pepper and a few tomatoes. A dried Mexican pepper, a splash of white wine and chicken stock would complete the stew.

     … first timers are either good by lucky shots of hopelessly fail  ….

Aware that first timers are either good by lucky shots of hopelessly fail, I took my time. So I could use my stove, or even my pressure cooker, as a backup. At 3 pm I seasoned my chicken with plain salt and pepper and went outside to fire up some charcoals. When they were hot, I placed them under and above the pan and waited.


Tried not to peek to often in my pan.

Waited some more.

Although I had dinner ready before 7, I couldn’t call this first experiment a huge success – I really have to find a way to persuade my coals to heat up my Dutch oven a bit better.
But dinner was good. Simple, cause I used mild flavors, but good. We each ate one leg, a scoop of the braised veggies, and nacho chips and guacamole on the side.

But then, next day’s dinner!

With 2 cups of leftover stock full of chicken flavor from one of the ziplocks and 1 cup of the braised veggies I made this pilaf. A great pilaf.

Let me show you how.

Pilaf tomato bell pepper zucchini feta -RED BELL PEPPER- illustration by Edie Eats Food Blog by Edie Dourleijn g by Edie Dourleijn blog by Edith Dourleijn

Pilaf from leftover stock and veggies – almost vegetarian*

Below I will write how I made this pilaf, with the ingredients I had on hand. Of course, I realize you might not have the exact same ingredients in stock as well. (Or did you braise chicken legs last night and have lots of veggies and juices left?). So, I will give suggestions how to make this recipe with fresh ingredients in stead.
Over the time I learned to see recipes as a concept, a basic idea, as inspiration, instead of a strict guideline of what to do. Hope you can (learn to) read this recipe like that as well.

I used for 2:
1 stalk of celery
2 tablespoons of olive oil
100 gr rice
½ cup | 50 ml white wine
1 cup braised veggies –> or 1/2 onion, 1/2 red bell pepper
1 roma tomato –> use 1 or 2 extra
2 cups | 450 ml braising juices –> same amount of a strong chicken/veggie stock
salt and pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1/3 cup | 75 gr feta
5 twigs of parsley
1-2 scallions / spring onions

1 Italian zucchini

Let’s do:
Fry the veggies. In my case, only that stalk of celery. After cleaning and cutting, I fry it a few minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
–> Here you can add that 1/2 onion and bell pepper. Just clean and fry them with the celery.

Tip: How big should the cut veggies be? Well, I like ‘em quite small in this type of dishes, so you have more or less a congruent texture in your mouth.

Bake the rice. Add the rice and let it absorb all fat. It’ll become a bit translucent. That’s good.

Add the wine. Just splash it in and let softly cook on medium heat, until the rice has absorbed it all.

Add the liquid and tomatoes. Cut the tomato(es) in small pieces and add with braised veggies the stock. Now let it all simmer until all stock is absorbed by the rice – usually in 15-20 minutes. Taste and test it every now and then.
–> A strong stock is a great substitute for my braising liquid. Veggie or chicken stock, either is good.

Tip: The idea of a pilaf, just like with paella and risotto, is that the rice has absorbed all liquid by the time it’s done. That’s why regularly tasting comes in. Learn to understand how fast the process is going in your pots on your stove at different temperatures. Regulating the temperature doesn’t speed up or slow down the cooking process itself, but the way the rice can absorb the liquid. On higher fire more liquid will evaporate, having the rice to absorb less. On low, but still softly bubbling, heat, the rice can absorb it all.

Fry the zucchini. Simply cut it into small bite-size quarters and fry them in some olive oil, max 5 minutes. I liked them still a bit firm, as a nice contrast to the soft pilaf.

Taste and test. It probably needs some salt and pepper – but that depends on how strong and salty your stock is. If you have, pimenton – the Spanish smoked paprika is great. Start with half a teaspoon. Maybe a pinch of cumin?

Garnish the pilaf with cubes of feta, chopped parsley and scallions/spring onions.

* Vegetarian? 
Strictly spoken, this recipe isn’t vegetarian. If you’ll use veggie stock, it is.


Like this pilaf? Here’s more of that type of dish. Or try my risottos, it’s the same technique of first frying and then cooking the rice.
Curious what else I cook? Have a look here!

8 Replies to “I’ll keep on cooking: Pilaf with tomato, bell pepper, zucchini and feta on top”

  1. Edie, this sounds delicious and I love your ecological approach to using what you have on hand so that nothing goes to waste… very inspiring!

    1. Thanks Stacey!
      And it wasn’t really for ecological reasons that I saved the braising juices, but them just being so damn good.. 😉
      Looking forward to use the other bag that lives in my freezer right now.

Join the cooking!