Greek Recipes

Greek and Cypriot recipes

Pilaf with a Head of Garlic from Ithaca


I took a couple of liberties with this old Ithacan dish. First, believe it or not, I reduced the amount of garlic from one head per serving to one head for 4 servings. The garlic is poached first, an old Greek method for ridding it of its bitter edge. I also replaced the original short-grain polished rice, which turns mushy easily, with aromatic, long-grain rice, preferably basmati. The dish makes a nice side to various meat and poultry dishes. I like it very much with sofrito and with quail and fava bean stew.

Makes about 4 servings


  • 1 medium head garlic, cloves very thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped plum
  • tomatoes (canned are fine)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup long-grain rice (preferably basmati)


1. Bring about 1 inch of water to a simmer in a small skillet and poach the garlic for 1 minute. Remove the garlic, pour off the water, and dry the skillet. Heat it again with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the poached garlic back to the skillet and cook it over low heat until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the wine to the skillet and, as soon as it steams up, pour in the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. When the sauce begins to boil, add the rice and keep stirring it over low to medium heat until it swells and softens, slowly adding another cup or so of water to the skillet to keep the pilaf moist. This should take 12 to 15 minutes. When the rice is cooked and the water absorbed, adjust the seasoning, toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and serve.

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