August 17, 2011

Classic 1950s Mushroom Rice Pilaf is a great summer staple

Day 229 of Vintage 365


Summer has so many exquisite tastes, from succulently sweet peaches to tantalizingly tart lemonade, sun-kissed tomatoes and freezing cold ice cream. Whole cookbooks could be - and have been, in fact - devoted to the boundless wonders of summer's harvest and the dishes we turn to most at this sizzling time of the year.

One flavour that I associate with summer - amongst so many marvelous ones - is that of bell peppers. I can't say as though I recall having them grow in our garden (or the gardens of my grandparents) when I was little (that was more the realm of peas, beans, corn, zucchini and carrots), yet summer - and moreover August - seems to make me pine for the taste of bell peppers in all their rainbow of hues and varying degrees of sweetness.

If I stop and ponder why this is, part of the reason may be that I associate peppers with Mexican and Tex-Mex foods, where they are a common workhorse of an ingredient.

Growing up, "Mexican night" was amongst my very favourite ethnic food meals and when it happened to take place, as it did at least a couple of times a year, in the summer all the better. We could load up our tacos and burritos inside with the fixings my mom laid out - piles of crisp lettuce and juicy toms, seasoned meats, bright orange cheddar, zippy salsa, filling refried beans, tangy sour cream - and then take our plates outside to eat in the backyard, loud notes of Gipsy King songs wafting from the black boombox.

Today's recipe for Mushroom Rice Pilaf starts out on the plain side, but is by no means boring. It's delicious as it, but could so easily be jazzed up in any number of ways.

You could put could certainly put a Mexican spin on it, or go into the direction that the canned tomatoes naturally lead and give it an Italian note. Toss in some seasonings, cheese and breadcrumbs and it's Spanish rice. Ditch the tomatoes, add carrots (and/or baby bok choy), soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and cilantro or green onions (scallions) for an Asian inspired pilaf that’s sure to draw rave reviews.

{Teaming with lots of delicious vegetables like bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, this classic, quick-to-prepare Mushroom Rice Pilaf recipe from 1952, is an awesome standby to have on hand, always ready to pair with other dishes or serve as an all-in-one meal.Click here for a larger version of this lovely rice recipe, which comes by way of Charm and Poise on Flickr.}


Like rice its very self, pilafs are endless versatile. I eat a lot of rice (due in part to the fact that I cannot have foods with wheat or gluten, and also just because I adore rice to no end!), and make some form or pilaff or other similar rice and mixed ingredient dish at least once a week.

I love that dishes like this mushroom pilaf take relatively little time and do not require you to turn on the oven, which is a massive plus during these scorching hot days of August.

Vegetarian (vegan if you use a vegan oil or margarine in place of butter), this dish would be wonderful for a buffet or potluck table. You can add meat, seafood, grilled vegetables or even some dried fruit or nuts to help elevate from a side dish to a full-on meal.

So, we work our way through the middle of August, I'm all to happy to give into my capsicum cravings (especially since they're such a stellar source of vitamin C) and whip up this 1950s mushroom rice pilaf, with it's crisp, delightful green peppers, for dinner tonight. Yum-yum! Smile


  1. I keep finding Rice cook booklets - must have been a big boom for them in the 50s and 60s. My mom had a rice recipe called East Indian Delight that everyone loved and no one has the recipe anymore. We've come close but... nothing like Mom's cooking.

  2. That sounds fantastic. Thanks for mushrooms! Love them!