Mackerel pilaff

Take care not to overcook the courgettes. They should be just firm when pierced with a knife.


serves 4
2 mackerel, each weighing about 500 g (1 lb)
25 g (1 oz) margarine or butter
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 5 mm (1/4 inch) strips
250 g (9 oz) long-grain brown rice
1 litre (1 3/4 pints) boiling chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
25 g (1 oz) whole blanched almonds or salted peanuts
150 g (5 oz) courgettes, cut into 5 mm (1/4 inch) slices
parsley sprigs and lemon slices, to garnish (optional)


1. Melt the margarine in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and red pepper and fry gently for 5 minutes until the onion is soft and lightly coloured.

2. Stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the stock. Season with salt and pepper, return to the boil then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes until the rice is tender and nearly all the liquid has been absorbed. Check the pan during cooking and add more boiling stock or water if necessary.

3. Heat the grill to high. Cover the grill rack with foil.

4. Spread the almonds out on the foil and toast under the grill until golden on all sides turning them constantly. Remove from grill and leave to cool.

5. Grill the mackerel for 10-12 minutes on each side, or until the flesh flakes easily.

6. Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the courgettes for 3-4 minutes until just tender. Drain well.

7. Flake the mackerel flesh into large pieces with a fork, removing all the skin and bones.

8. Drain any liquid from the rice and carefully fork in the courgettes and fish. Heat through for a few seconds then taste and adjust seasoning.

9. Spoon on to a large serving platter, and sprinkle over the
toasted almonds. Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon slices, if liked, and serve hot or cold.

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