Rice Pilaf is an easy side dish that goes with just about anything you’re having for dinner!
Anytime I have an opportunity to add extra vegetables into a dish, I do it. It’s not easy to get all of those vegetable servings in, especially for the kids. That’s why I’ve always added extra veggies into my rice pilaf. Most of the time rice pilaf is made with diced onion, but I like to bring some red bell peppers, carrots and zucchini to the game.
Add an extra serving of vegetables to my day without even noticing? Why not?! Check out How Much in a Serving of Vegetables? if you’re curious if you’re eating the recommended amount each day.
This Rice Pilaf with Vegetables makes a perfect side dish that the whole family loves. That’s winning!
What is rice pilaf?
Are you familiar with rice pilaf? It’s probably my favorite way to prepare rice, or maybe it’s tied with risotto. Who doesn’t love risotto? Try my Brown Rice Risotto for a healthier version!
Back to rice pilaf. Let me fill you in if you don’t know exactly what it is.
Rice is considered rice pilaf when it’s been toasted and cooked in aromatics (like the onion and carrot) and then cooked in a seasoned broth.
Toasting the rice gives the finished dish a more complex flavor and cooking the rice in a little bit less liquid gives it a fluffier texture. We also let it rest after cooking which gives it an even fluffier texture.
Tips and Tricks for Perfect Rice Pilaf
It turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks. While on our recent vacation, in addition to a few books I also read a number of magazines. One of them was an issue of Fine Cooking, which had an article on cooking perfect rice pilaf. I took some of their advice and tried the tips as soon as we got home and they brought my normal rice pilaf to an even better level.
- Use long grain rice. I prefer brown rice, but a long-grain white rice like jasmine rice or basmati are great also.
- Rinse your rice in cold water first. Rinsing removes starch and helps create separate, not sticky, rice grains.
- Toast your rice grains first. Toasting them adds texture as well as extra flavor. The longer you let them cook, the more complex and nutty the flavor will be.
- Don’t stir the rice pilaf after it boils as this can make the rice sticky.
- Allow the rice to rest for a couple of minutes before scooping to serve. Again, this prevents it from getting sticky.
Recipe Ingredients–What You Need
- long grain rice (I prefer brown basmati rice)
- oil or butter
- red bell pepper
- chicken broth or vegetable broth (for a vegetarian rice pilaf, just use vegetable broth)
- salt and pepper
Substitution and Addition Ideas
- Use your favorite vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, or others could be used
- Frozen vegetables will work when fresh vegetables aren’t available.
- Use homemade chicken stock for extra nutrition. Try my Slow Cooker Bone Broth or Instant Pot Bone Broth.
- Add some garlic powder and Italian seasonings for extra flavor or try fresh herbs.
How to Make Rice Pilaf with Vegetables
Making homemade rice pilaf with vegetables is easier than you think! It just takes a few simple steps and it’s so much tastier than regular rice.
- In a large bowl, rinse rice with cold water. Stir with your hands to remove surface starch. Drain through a fine-mesh strainer and rinse again.
- Heat the butter or oil in a large, heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper, zucchini, and carrot and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring, until it is lightly browned and smells nutty, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the broth, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook on low heat until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 40-45 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and lay a folded kitchen towel over the pan, and cover again to hold the towel in place. Let the rice rest for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and towel, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days
Are you ready to give rice pilaf a try? I think you’re going to love this easy and healthy side dish! It’s great as a simple side dish, but it can become a main course by adding a protein and turning it into rice bowls. A complete meal that’s so easy and so good. This easy recipe will become a dinner time favorite!
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Here are some more rice recipes I think you’ll love!