Persian pilaf & roasted root loaves

Persian pilaf & roasted root loaves

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Prep: 40 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 40 mins

A challenge

Serves 8

These vibrant individual pistachio nut roasts with honeyed pomegranate and harissa tomato sauce can also be made as one impressive centrepiece loaf

Nutrition and extra info

  • loaves and sauce
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal550
  • fat20g
  • saturates3g
  • carbs69g
  • sugars36g
  • fibre15g
  • protein16g
  • salt0.6g


  • 200g carrots, peeled and cut into 1-2cm chunks



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 200g sweet potatoes, peeled and diced like the carrots
    Sweet potatoes

    Sweet potato

    sweet po-tate-toe

    Sweet potatoes have a creamy texture and a sweet-spicy flavour that makes them ideal for savoury…

  • 200g parsnips, peeled and diced like the carrots too



    The fact that the parsnip is a member of the carrot family comes as no surprise – it looks…

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • pinch of saffron



    The stigma of a type of crocus, saffron threads have a pungent and distinctive aroma and flavour…

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon



    A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 225g paella rice
  • 550-600ml vegetable stock
  • 100g dried apricots, diced
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained - optional (good for bulking the mixture if you want to feed another mouth)
  • 150g shelled pistachios
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with a fork



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

  • handful coriander leaves
  • 500g tub Greek yogurt, to serve
  • couscous and green salad, to serve



    Consisting of many tiny granules made from steamed and dried durum wheat, couscous has become a…

For the sauce

  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 500g carton passata
  • 2 tbsp honey



    Honey is made by bees from the nectar they collect from flowers. Viscous and fragrant, it's…

  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste

For the pomegranate roots

  • 500g chantenay carrots, scrubbed



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 500g baby beetroots
  • 250-300g small shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • zest and juice 1 orange



    One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

  • 150g pomegranate seeds


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Toss the carrot chunks, sweet potato and parsnip with 2 tbsp of the oil on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until golden and tender – about 20-25 mins.

  2. Meanwhile put the last tbsp of oil in a deep frying or sauté pan with the onion, and cook gently for around 8-10 mins to soften. Stir in the saffron and rice, then stir in the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat so the rice is gently simmering and cook, stirring occasionally for 25 mins or until the rice is tender and stock just absorbed – like a paella. Stir in the cinnamon, coriander and both types of cumin, plus the chopped apricots and take off the heat. Leave to cool with the roasted veg while you get the rest of the ingredients and tins ready.

  3. Roughly chop the pistachios. Grease 8 small loaf tins with a little oil, then cut long strips of baking parchment to line the base and ends of each tin – with overhangs to help you lift out the loaves when they’re done.

  4. Scrape the cooled rice into a big mixing bowl and stir through the beaten eggs with salt and pepper. Scatter over chickpeas if using, plus the roasted veg and 100g of the pistachios and fold through. Divide the mixture between the loaf tins, and use your hands to neatly round the tops. The loaves can be chilled for up to 2 days before baking now.

  5. Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients with a little salt and pepper in a saucepan. Simmer for 20 mins until thickened and rich. Again, this can sit in the fridge for up to 2 days.

  6. An hour before you want to serve, heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. For the roasted pomegranate roots, mix the carrots, beetroot, shallots and oil in a big roasting tin with some seasoning. Roast on the top shelf for 15 mins, with an empty tray heating on the bottom shelf.

  7. Stir the cumin seeds, pomegranate molasses, orange juice and zest through the veg and put back on the top shelf. Sit the Persian rice loaves on the preheated tray, and bake for another 30 mins together. Finally, stir the pomegranate seeds through the veg, and swap the shelves – so the loaves sit on the top, for a last 5 mins of cooking. Meanwhile gently reheat the sauce.

  8. Carefully lift the loaves out of their tins onto a platter, and scatter with the last 50g of chopped pistachios plus some coriander leaves. Let guests help themselves, sitting the Persian loaves in a pool of tangy tomato sauce – with spoonfuls of the roasted pomegranate roots, couscous, salad leaves and Greek yogurt alongside.

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Comments, questions and tips

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3rd Dec, 2016
Why is this called 'Persian'? Throwing pistachios and saffron into any dish does NOT make it Persian. If anything, it's closer to Moroccan flavours than Persian.
12th Dec, 2019
Can I freeze this dish?
lulu_grimes's picture
16th Dec, 2019
Hello, This recipe has a small blue freezing symbol so yes you can, the loaves and sauce can be frozen separately. I hope you enjoy the recipe.
Charlie Wilkinson's picture
Charlie Wilkinson
9th Dec, 2019
Can you use one large loaf tin rather than the smaller ones or will that not work?
lulu_grimes's picture
10th Dec, 2019
Hello, Yes you can. Make the loaf mix as above to the start of step 4, but when you combine the ingredients, only stir through two-thirds of the roasted veg, and once mixed press the mix into a 900g greased and lined large loaf tin. Bake, covered with foil, for an hour at the temperature above, then turn out upside down, topping with reserved veg, pistachios, and apricots. I hope this helps.
6th Oct, 2018
What can I substitute for the eggs?
goodfoodteam's picture
12th Oct, 2018
Thanks for your question. We'd suggest using an egg replacer such as Orgran No Egg
18th Nov, 2018
I can't seem to find that in my area and i need to make this vegan. would a chia egg work?
goodfoodteam's picture
20th Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. We haven't tested this in the recipe but chia egg can be used as an alternative for binding so believe it will work effectively.
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