Prep Time: 30-40 Mins
1 medium onion
2 large carrots
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons basmati rice or bulgur
Tablespoon sweetener (maple syrup/agave syrup)
11/2 teaspoons sea salt
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
225ml hot water
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill leaves (optional)
1. Peel the onion and slice finely. Slice the carrots into half-moons. Cut the leeks into 5cm diagonal slices, including the green bits.
2. Place a large, wide, heavy-based saucepan on a high heat with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and carrots and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the onions get translucent.
3. Add the leeks and cook for about another 5 minutes, or until the leeks start to soften, stirring gently and making sure they don’t burn. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if they start to stick.
4. Next, add the rice, sweetener, salt and pepper, then drizzle the hot water and lemon juice over (we were told that the lemon juice helps to make the veg shinier when cooking).
5. Reduce the heat, cover the pan with a lid and let the leeks and carrots simmer slowly over a low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the water is almost gone and the vegetables are tender. Avoid stirring during this stage, to prevent the starch from the rice coming out and damaging the vegetables. If all the water is absorbed before the veg are ready, add a little more to stop them burning.
6. When the leeks and the rice are cooked, take the dish off the heat and leave it to cool down with the lid on. Put a clean tea towel or paper towel between the pan and the lid, if there seems to be excess moisture.
7. If you are going to serve this as a cold side dish, leave it to cool down to room temperature, then remove the lid, pour the remaining olive oil evenly over the vegetables and move them around in the pan to get the oil through, again trying not to stir. If you would rather not use this much oil, you can skip this step.
8. When you are ready to serve, ideally slide the mixture into a serving bowl without disturbing the vegetables too much. Chop some fresh parsley or dill and sprinkle over the top, and serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.