The perfect last-minute dinner from a bag of frozen veg

Lilly Higgins: Rainbow vegetable pilau rice is a great way to inject some colour into mealtimes

An injection of colour is always welcome at this time of year. This recipe requires as many coloured vegetables as possible to achieve that rainbow effect. The gentle warmth of the spices flavours everything in this dish, so no one can complain.

Rice is a fantastic pantry staple and so versatile. I often make a huge bowl of rice then fold through grated raw carrot and finely chopped fried chorizo. I fry the chorizo just before mixing it in so that there is plenty of smokey paprika oil in the pan to flavour the rice.

This year my vision is to increase the amount of vegetables we are eating and decrease the meat a little. It works to treat meat as a garnish, be it tiny cubes of chorizo or shredded bacon on top of kale and potato champ. It’s a great side to plenty of vegetables.

My jars of lentils and beans are being restocked as I plan on being more efficient than ever. I hereby vow to plan mealtimes more than 30 minutes before said mealtime. This will be the year that we glow with health from a diet rich in prebiotic foods, with fermented vegetables served with each meal.


I was lucky enough to see Sandor Katz, the father of modern fermentation and author of The Art of Fermentation, a few years ago at Litfest, the food and drinks literacy festival in Ballymaloe, Co Cork.

He said to introduce fermented foods early in life and to integrate it into sauces, dressings and dips. Get kids to accept the flavour early on. I use sauerkraut brine for dressings. I whip kimchi into mayonnaise and yogurt. When our kombucha gets a little over acidic, we use it for salad dressings.

Making kombucha and sauerkraut has become something my kids love. There’s nothing better for calming a three-years-old’s tantrum than asking them to scrunch a huge bowl of cabbage leaves together. The physical action distracts them from their tyrannical rampage, thank goodness. They can learn so much from being involved and mine now get quite defensive of good bacteria.

This recipe does call for white basmati as it soaks up the spices a bit better than brown, but brown rice is fine too. This is the perfect last minute dinner if you have a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. I usually use frozen green beans and broad beans. Add any vegetables you like, the main thing is that it’s flecked with lots of gorgeous vegetables.

This can be served as is or with some smoked mackerel, kedgeree style. I love to serve it with a fried egg and a generous helping of kimchi. It is fusion food that’s healthy and so delicious.


Serves four to six


1 tbsp butter
1 tsp ground turmeric
1-2 tsp curry powder
2 cups rice
4 cups water
2 carrots, finely diced
½ red pepper, finely diced
½ yellow pepper, finely diced
Handful green beans, chopped
Handful broad beans
4 tbsp finely shredded red cabbage
3 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped


1 Melt the butter in a large heavy-based pan. Add the turmeric and curry powder. Leave to warm through before adding the rice. Stir the rice in the spiced butter for a minute or two until fragrant. Add the water and stir. Place the lid on and lower to a simmer. Leave to cook.

2 In another pan sauté the carrots and peppers in a little olive oil or butter. Add the remaining vegetables and stir to heat through. Once the rice is cooked fold through the vegetable mix and serve with a little coriander on top.