side dishes

Gravedigger Pilaf

By 03/05/2021July 31st, 2023No Comments

Last summer, my Bread of the Dead recipe got a lot of attention because of the fun mushroom skulls I made to top the pizzas, so I dug up this old Gravedigger Pilaf recipe from my blog Castellon’s Kitchen and decided to give it an update by using these festive mushroom skulls. It may look like a lot of work to make these skulls, but it is really very simple. The only equipment you’ll need is a straw with a large opening, a paring knife and a toothpick. It may take a little time to prep the mushroom skulls but remember in Halloween food, it’s all about the details. And all the prep will pay off when this savory Gravedigger Pilaf turns a few heads when the skulls catch their eye. Enjoy!

Gravedigger Pilaf

A Halloween ready side dish of black rice and lentil pilaf with festive mushroom skulls and herbs.
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Course: Side Dish
Keyword: Halloween Food, meatless meal, mushroom skulls
Servings: 8
Lori Castellon


Black Rice

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup black rice, rinsed
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth


  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup white wine


  • 1 8oz mushroom skulls (I used baby bella mushrooms)
  • 2 T butter
  • 5-6 shallots, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 4oz enoki mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


  • Add oil in medium saucepan and sauté onion until translucent about 5 minutes. Add garlic and heat until fragrant about 1 minute. Add black rice, and broth and cook about 35-40 minutes. Add time and additional broth as needed until desired tenderness. Keep warm.
  • Add lentils, broth and wine to a medium saucepan and simmer for 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender. Keep warm.
  • While the rice and the lentils are cooking, prepare mushroom skulls: Use a straw to make skull eye sockets and a paring knife to make small cuts for the nose holes and to scrape down the stem to mimic teeth. Repeat on the other side of the mushroom so that each whole mushroom when cut in half, gives you two mushroom skulls.
  • Sauté shallots, mushroom skulls, and garlic in butter until mushrooms soften and shallots are translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add enoki mushrooms(optional), thyme leaves and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss black rice, lentils, and mushrooms together and serve in a large platter or bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.

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