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Brown Rice Pilaf with Bitter Greens, Olives, and Orange

Nutty toasty brown rice and pungent peppery greens—love them both! Take juicy sweet-tart citrus, assertive salty green olives, and crunchy roasted peanuts and mix them in for this flavor-forward brown rice pilaf with bitter greens, olives, and orange, a nutritious dish I find hard to resist.

Brown Rice Pilaf with Bitter Greens, Olives, and Orange

Like beer and coffee, bitter pungent greens are an acquired taste. I mean, when you were 9 years old, did you appreciate them? For me, bitter greens were bad news. I didn’t care if they were vitamin-rich good for me. Where along the line of growing up do we learn to savor leafy vegetables like mustard greens?

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ingredients for Brown Rice Pilaf with Bitter Greens, Olives, and Orange
Our CSA farm share folks have a penchant for planting bitter greens because they grow well in mountain climates with short growing seasons. Finding interesting leafy greens in our weekly share box is a regular thing. When we found a bunch of spicy variegated purple-bronze-green mustard greens in the pick, I decided to make this pilaf.

To me, a the word pilaf sounds elegant, much more sexy than rice with stuff mixed in. Pilafs always begin by first browning the rice in oil or butter before cooking it in stock or broth. A pilaf, aka pilau can be seasoned however you want, with chopped veggies, and proteins like meat or poultry.

This particular brown rice pilaf is cooked with a blend of orange and lemon juices and vegetable broth that’s been seasoned with garlic, cumin seeds, and a bit of sweet, like maple syrup or honey. Here, it’s a fresh bright side dish. Add black-eyed peas or a faux meat like soysage, and this pilaf becomes a vegetarian, actually vegan, gluten free main dish.

Ready to mix skillet of Brown Rice Pilaf with Bitter Greens, Olives, and Orange

To pressure cook brown rice pilaf:

  • Side dish or main dish, using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, this healthy pilaf comes together in half the time, about 45 minutes.
  • Sauté the rice in oil with the garlic and cumin, stir in the cooking liquid, and lock the pressure cooker lid in place. Set the timer for 25 minutes for the Instant Pot, or for 25 minutes after your stove-top cooker comes to pressure.
  • Release the pressure cooker immediately by turning the Instant Pot dial to Vent or running the stove-top pressure cooker under cold water.

Pressure cooker or regular stove-top cooking, when the rice is done, immediately stir in the mustard greens so they wilt with the heat of the rice. Add the rest of the ingredients and serve, ta-da!

Brown Rice Pilaf with Bitter Greens, Olives, and Orange on plate rectangle

Brown Rice Pilaf with Bitter Greens, Olives, and Orange recipe notes:

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Brown Rice Pilaf with Bitter Greens, Olives, and Orange rectangle
Brown Rice Mustard Green Pilaf with Orange, Olives, and Peanuts
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins

This flavorful brown rice pilaf makes a delicious side dish. For a simple meatless dinner, bump up the protein with black-eyed peas or sautéed soy-based sausage style ‘meat.’ Serve with a crisp lettuce salad. See notes for time-saving pressure cooking.

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Gluten-free, Vegan
Keyword: vegan, brown rice, pilaf, mustard greens
Servings: 8 servings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (zest the orange before squeezing)
  • 1 pinch ground turmeric
  • 8 ounces mustard greens, spinach, arugula etc. , washed, stems removed, leaves cut into thin chiffonade (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup sliced pitted green olives
  • 1 orange , peeled, cut into sections, and diced
  • ¼ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until you see a bit of golden color, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin seeds, and stir a minute, but don’t let the garlic turn brown.
  2. Add the vegetable broth, orange juice, and turmeric. Cover, and return to a boil. Lower the heat as low as possible and cook until all of the water is absorbed, about one hour. Do not stir. (To see if the water has been absorbed without stirring, tilt the pan to the side.)
  3. Meanwhile, if you are adding faux sausage, heat a tablespoon of avocado oil in a medium to large skillet. Cook the “sausage”, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until you have lightly browned crumbles. Set the skillet aside, but keep warm.
  4. When the rice is almost cooked, place the mustard greens on top. Cover the pot and let the greens steam and wilt while the rice finishes cooking, about 10 minutes.
  5. To serve, whisk the lemon juice, maple syrup, and orange zest together. Mix into the rice, along with the olives, diced orange, and peanuts. Stir in the black-eyed peas or faux sausage crumbles, if using.

Recipe Notes

To pressure cook brown rice pilaf:

Heat the oil in the pressure cooker pot. Follow the steps as for stovetop cooking, except after adding the liquids, lock the lid in place. Bring to high pressure and cook for 25 minutes. Release the pressure immediately, following the directions for your pressure cooker. Quickly stir the greens into the pot, cover, and let the greens wilt 5 to 10 minutes. When they're nicely wilted, mix in the rest of the ingredients, including black-eyed peas or cooked soysage crumbles, if using.

Spinach, kale, arugula, and collard greens are possible substitutes for mustard greens!

1 comment

  • […] and mint.  This salad looks like a filling, healthy way to use arugula and cherry tomatoes. And here’s a one-pot dinner that would be perfect with our baby mustard […] Reply · 4 October, 2017

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