My Umami Pilaf


1 medium size onion
1 carrot
1 green pepper
1 celery stick
A handful of mushrooms
3 tbs of vegetable oil (best results with olive oil)
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
3-4 medium sized tomatoes
Optionally, a handful of fried zucchini or eggplant cubes
1/2 cup of rice (any rice will do but choose a healthier one, pre-boiled, whole grain rice)
Your favorite herbs and spices.  Mine pepper, allspice, laurel leaves, dill and parsley.
Optionally, grated parmesan
Just blender or chop finely a medium size onion, a celery stick and a green pepper. Cut a carrot in fine slices. Stir fry the vegetables in 2 tbs of olive oil on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add half a cup of rice (I’ve used a wonderful mixture of pre-boiled and all colors whole-grain rice) and a handful of finely diced mushrooms . Stir a couple of minutes more.
Add hot water (2 cups), a bit of salt  and let simmer until the rice is almost done (it depends on the rice but probably this takes no more than 20 minutes).You can add also fried zucchini or eggplant cubes for a better taste. Cut zucchini or summer squash or eggplant into cubes, salt them and let them on a sieve for a quarter of an hour to drain. Fry them in a bit of oil slightly, just to change color. Add to the pilaf when the rice is almost ready.Separately, boil 4-6 medium sized tomatoes, skinless and diced, with 2-3 Tbs olive oil, on medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until they  change color and loose some of the water. This will give a special taste to any pilaf or soup or sauce, believe me.

I think it’s called umami, the fifth taste we didn’t know we have.
Umami, the taste of parmesan cheese!
When the rice is almost done, add the tomatoes to the pilaf. Add a spoon of balsamic vinegar.  Add your favorite spices and herbs.  I prefer pepper, allspice, laurel leaves, dill and parsley. Simmer for 5 minutes on low heat. Cut the heat and let it rest for half an hour.
You can store this pilaf in the fridge and eat it along the week as a main dish, side dish or snack. Excellent for No Meat days. It tastes even if cold and is so refreshing on a hot summer day.
Hot, with a bit of Parmesan or Swiss cheese grated on top will make a perfect comfort meal in a cold Winter day.