It used to be that when someone mentioned “rice pilaf” to us, we would immediately think of the restaurant side dish. It sounded fancy and was very tasty, but we didn’t think about making it at home ourselves.
Lo and behold, we discovered the secrets to making this flavorful side dish, and it has since become one of our favorites. It was hard not to, seeing as how it takes rice (one of our favorite foods in the world) and makes it more fragrant and delicious.
The word “pilaf” actually describes the cooking method of this dish, in which rice is cooked in seasoned broth, with or without spices and / or aromatics. That’s how you can instantly turn plain rice into “wow!” And depending on the cuisine or what kind of pilaf you want to make, it can be cooked with meat, vegetables, or dried fruits.
We’re sticking with a classic version of rice pilaf for our recipe this week, though, so that you can see how easy it is to make this dish. After that, you’ll be comfortable enough to dress it up on your own! We also like this basic style because it doesn’t compete with the flavors of the main dish, and it’ll go well with many meals.
We start off by sauteing aromatics in oil. (Or if you’re feeling a little indulgent, go for that butter!) Aromatics like onions, garlic, celery, fennel, and / or carrots make up the base of any rice pilaf. They infuse the rice with their sweet and earthy aromas, so don’t skip them! We’re only using garlic and onions in this recipe, but you can mix and match your favorites.
Then we continue to add even more flavor by toasting the rice with the aromatics. Mmm, we can just smell it now! Another reason why toasting the rice is important, is so that the rice will not clump later.
Finally, chicken stock (or vegetable stock, for our meatless friends) is the final addition to adding a ton of flavor to this simple dish.
And just like that, you have succeeded in making restaurant-quality rice pilaf! We like to add a little more color and texture to our classic pilaf, so we fold in some fresh parsley and sliced almonds at the end.
Now all you need is a tasty entree to enjoy with your pilaf. . . Here’s what we suggest!:
- Pork Chops with Balsamic Red Onions
- Lemon-Garlic Salmon with Asparagus
- Easy Skillet Baked Chicken
- BBQ Baked Salmon / Tofu with Almond Green Beans
Ideas for Leftovers:
- Rice freezes well, so go ahead and freeze any extras.
- Use as a filling to stuff bell peppers, zucchini, or portobello mushrooms.
- Add salad greens, lemon juice, and olives for a rice salad.
For More Smarts:
- We like to use white long-grain rice, such as jasmine or basmati rice, but feel free to use brown rice. Keep in mind that cooking times will vary, but they definitely provide more fiber.
- Go paleo (or just #eatmoreveggies) and make with cauliflower rice instead. Learn all about making this healthy rice alternative here.
- Putting a towel between the pot and the lid for 10 minutes allows the towel to absorb any residual moisture.
Onions and herbs are not always the “friendliest” ingredients to chop, so here are a couple of videos to help you chop quickly and efficiently:
Everything gets sauteed and cooked in a saute pan, which means only one pot to clean!
- (Yields ~4 cups)
- Garlic – 3 cloves, minced
- Onions, small – 1, diced
- Parsley (opt) – 1 tbsp, chopped
- Jasmine rice, brown or white (uncooked) – 1 1/3 cups
- Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
- Chicken stock – 2 2/3 cups
- Sliced almonds – 1/4 cup
- Garlic / Onions / Parsley – Prep as directed. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
- Rice – Rinse until water runs clear.
- Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and then garlic and onions to heated oil. Saute for ~2 minutes, until aromatics are softened.
- Add rice and saute until pan is dry and rice starts to smell nutty. Pour in chicken stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until all the liquid’s absorbed. Remove from heat and place a kitchen towel between pan and lid for ~10 minutes before serving.
- Enjoy rice pilaf as a side dish to your favorite entree!