Shiitake-Sweet Potato Brown Rice Pilaf with Spicy Raita

This week, it’s all about showcasing veggies.

As we get further into the holiday season (though still not sure how Thanksgiving already came and passed), getting dinner on the table can be difficult. Our schedules become packed with parties, holiday concerts, and work events. Truth be told, sometimes it’s hard to get a home-cooked meal on the table. But, here’s the answer to your weeknight dinner conundrum. It’s a perfect one-pot (and I truly mean one-pot) dish and best part is that you can serve it right out of the sauté pan. In fact, I wholeheartedly encourage it. It’s packed with good for you ingredients and has some bright flavors that will have you going back for seconds!

This dish is a riff on one my kids loved when they were younger. In fact, I loved it too because after a long day at the restaurant or on set filming the show, I quickly get the prep done, throw it in the oven and forget about it until the timer went off. Best part is cleanup is easy. Nothing screams one-pot like this dish does. It’s versatile and you can 100% sub out the veggies, swap in others and layer in flavors. The raita at the end provides a great spicy and cooling flavor while the pomegranate seeds offer just the right amount of pop to brighten up and tie the dish together. 

I chose to keep this one meat free to showcase how delicious vegetables can be without a protein overwhelming the plate. As a Chinese American, I grew up learning that the vegetables were the stars of the plate and that proteins were there to complement the flavors, textures and profiles of the vegetables. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against proteins. Have you looked at most restaurant menus? Ever had the chance to have eaten at Blue Ginger or come to downtown Boston and eat at Blue Dragon? Our proteins completely steal the show, they are out of this world good- (looking at you Blue Dragon Fried Chicken…). But, if we are being honest, which I always am, vegetables don’t get enough credit. It’s why I chose to have an entire vegetable section of the menu. Sometimes they are so good on their own, they don’t need anything extra to overcomplicate. Rather, it’s all about layering the flavors so that the dish has good depth of flavor while letting the vegetable steal the show. One way to layer in flavor and textures is by utilizing mushrooms. Here, I’ve added diced shiitake mushrooms to provide a depth of flavor, bring out the umami and add that special unctuous bite. I promise, you’ll never know you are missing meat from this dish. 

This dish is packed with nutrition between the sweet potatoes and mushrooms plus the added fiber from the brown rice and lastly extra bite of protein from the Greek yogurt topping. But I’ll let Becca, my PR/Marketing guru and Registered Dietitian chime in here with her nutrition tips and tricks on why this dish is a great bang for your buck- money, flavor and nutrition wise. 

Notes from Becca-
Thanks Chef! This is one of my new go-to busy night dinners. We are all so busy, particularly this time of year, and I love that this is a true one-pot dish from start to finish. The presentation in the sauté pan is a great way to showcase the whole dish and it makes enough servings so you are sure to have leftovers. What I really love about this dish though is that it’s packed with so much color, flavor and nutrition from the start. It’s not an over complex dish and each bite is overflowing with good for you ingredients. Did you know that by using brown rice instead of white you increase your fiber intake by 3x? The topping and garnish here is also such a great surprise both on the nutrition and flavor front. The jalapeno, pomegranate seeds and yogurt trifecta provide a fun contrast, pack in a little extra protein plus give you a vitamin C boost for the immune system, which I know we can all use in these winter months. Talk about a win-win! 

Eat Well With Ming Cooking Tip: Did you know shiitake mushrooms are a great source of antioxidants? They contain a lot of the same amino acids as meat and contain multiple different immune boosting, cholesterol lowering and anti-cancer properties. Keep in mind though that while they are nutritional powerhouses the specific property percentages alter depending on where the mushrooms are grown. When cooking with shiitake mushrooms, cut the stems off and clean off the tops.


Shiitake-Sweet Potato Brown Rice Pilaf with Jalapeño-Chive Raita 

Serves 4

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
½ yellow onion, minced
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 sweet potato, peeled and minced
1 cup diced shiitake mushrooms 
2 cups brown rice
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
1small jalapeno, finely minced
1 ¼ tablespoon minced chives, save ¼ tablespoon for garnish
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from ½ lemon
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 

2. In an oven-safe large sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons oil with the garlic, ginger and onions and start to sauté until the aromatics start to sweat, about 2-3 minutes. 

3. Add ½ tablespoon butter, season with kosher salt and pepper and continue to caramelize. Just as the mixture starts to caramelize add the sweet potato, shiitake mushrooms and brown rice. Stir gently to mix well. 

4. Add soy sauce and vegetable stock. Gently combine so that everything is well mixed and season with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. 

5. Bring mixture to a simmer, cover with a lid and place in the oven. Cook until rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed, about 55 minutes to 1 hour. 

6. While the rice is cooking, combine the yogurt, jalapeno, minced chives, and juice and zest from the lemon. Mix well, cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to combine while the rice is cooking. 

7. When the rice is finished, remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a trivet, as this dish looks perfect served right out of the sauté pan. Top with a large dollop of the raita, garnish with the ¼ tablespoon chives and pomegranate seeds and serve hot. 



Rebecca NorenComment