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Meatless Monday: Saffron pilaf with grilled vegetables

This side dish gets a boost of flavor and color from a lovely spice derived from a flower. Try saffron pilaf with grilled vegetables as a side dish at your next holiday meal (or weeknight dinner) to wow those gathered at your table!

Saffron rice pilaf

The crocus flower is responsible for producing saffron — the colorful spice in this terrific side dish. Although it’s an expensive spice, a little goes a long way and makes your meals worth the price. Approximately 75,000 flowers are needed to produce one pound of the saffron filaments (the dried stigmas from inside the flower) to make this spice — talk about flower power!

Crocus flower

We all know vegetables are good for us, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenagers don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. The CDC notes that “fruits and vegetables can reduce chronic diseases and some cancers and help teens manage their weight.” Vegetarian dishes that taste great (like this one) can help encourage your teens (and adults, too) to eat more veggies.

Try going meat-free at meals at least one day a week, as encouraged by the Meatless Monday organization. You’ll be pleased with the new flavors and options you’ll discover — not to mention the health benefits offered by a plant-based diet!

Saffron pilaf with grilled vegetables recipe

Serves 4 people


  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 (14-1/2 ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 red sweet pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 ounce herbed semi-soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans, toasted


  1. Prepare your oven broiler. Place the rice, vegetable broth, water and saffron into a saucepan and bring to a boil. When it’s boiling, cover the pan and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, place the sweet pepper, zucchini and eggplant onto a baking sheet and brush generously with oil. Sprinkle the vegetables with the garlic and a few pinches of salt and pepper; grill for 10 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.
  3. Remove the vegetables from the oven and cut into small pieces once cool enough to handle. Add the vegetables to the rice, toss to combine and then serve topped with the crumbled goat cheese and the hazelnuts.

This is a dish everyone will enjoy. With its golden hue and savory flavor, it’s a great way to encourage people to eat more veggies!

Try these Meatless Monday meals

Meatless Monday Mediterranean style
Carrot-mushroom barley stew
Start the week with a pizza party
For the love of lentils

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