Pic of Fragrant pilaf with hazelnuts and braised turnips

Fragrant pilaf with hazelnuts and braised turnips

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Vegetarian mains

Fragrant pilaf with hazelnuts and braised turnips

Main Serves 2 45 min
Don't flinch at the idea of a turnip. Spring or summer turnips are (usually, we are organic!) small and sweet with a radish-like taste. Simple to cook and a revelation. Cooking a good pilaf is all about light but fragrant spicing and gentle cooking of the rice. Placing a tea towel under the lid helps to absorb condensation which helps the grains separate.

Cook's notes

If you have trouble getting your hob to a very low setting, it is worth checking the rice to make sure it doesn't stick. A dash more water should help and you may need to lessen the cooking time.


  • 200g basmati rice
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • 400g spring turnips
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 25g butter
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 pilaf spice pot, containing:
  • pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 125g flat green beans
  • 3 spring onions
  • 100g asparagus
  • 40g toasted hazelnuts
  • 30g parsley
  • 15g dill
  • salt and pepper
Image of Fragrant pilaf with hazelnuts and braised turnips


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 35 min
  • Step 1

    Put a pan of well salted water on to boil. Wash the rice thoroughly in the sieve under running water until the water starts to run clear. Peel the zest away from the lemon in thin strips with a potato peeler.
  • Step 2

    Tip the rice into the pan of boiling water, making sure the water covers it well. Return it to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes. Drain the rice and give the pan a quick clean. Before starting the pilaf, peel your turnips. Cut them into 2cm chunks.
  • Step 3

    Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the other saucepan and get it very hot. Throw in the turnips, season with salt and fry them vigorously for 1 minute. Add the cider vinegar, 80ml of water and half the butter. Bring to a boil and clamp the lid on tight.
  • Step 4

    Cook for 20 minutes, stirring at regular intervals. Add a dash more water if the pan dries out. The turnips should be tender and the liquid almost all evaporated. Meanwhile, trim and finely slice the green beans into 1cm pieces, at an angle.
  • Step 5

    Trim and finely slice 3 spring onions. Melt the remaining butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the cleaned rice pan. Add the pilaf spice pot, half the cinnamon stick, and 3 strips of lemon zest. Fry lightly for 1 minute. Press the cardamom pods with a wooden spoon to split them.
  • Step 6

    Tip 80ml of water into the pan and add the rice. Season well with salt and pepper. Gently stir it through the butter, then level it out and press 8 holes into the surface with the handle of a spoon. Drape the tea towel over the top of the pan.
  • Step 7

    Pop the lid on, fold the edges up and over the lid so they don't catch. Cook on a very low heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, trim away the tough ends from 100g of asparagus (gently bend at point the stalks become tough and they will easily snap off).
  • Step 8

    Slice the asparagus stalks into 1cm pieces. Keep the spear heads whole. Add the green beans, spring onions and asparagus to the rice. Gently fold them in and level the rice back out. Replace the lid and tea towel.
  • Step 9

    Return to a low heat for a further 15 minutes, until the rice and veg are tender. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the hazelnuts. Wash the parsley and half the dill. Shake them dry, pick the leaves and fronds from the stalks and finely chop them.
  • Step 10

    Stir the dill into the turnips. Stir the parsley and hazelnuts into the rice. Season both to taste with salt pepper and a squeeze or 2 of lemon. Serve the pilaf with the turnips on top.

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