Better than Boxed Rice Pilaf


Prep time 10-12 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 5

I love rice pilaf. No really – I LOVE it. This became a real predicament when I ditched the “belly” of the grocery store, aka processed foods, in favor of a whole foods lifestyle. For a while I just ate a whole lot of steamed rice. Its not bad, really, but who doesn’t love fluffy, tasty, rice pilaf?

Today I am here to tell you there is another way and its downright delicious. Even better – this recipe is packed with 2 cups of nutritious veggies that add immense flavor to an otherwise boring dish. Oh, and there’s cayenne pepper in it (just a hint). Seriously, no box rice can touch this dish.

Pilaf is not the flavor, but the technique you use to cook the rice. In that regard, I want to stress to you the GIFT of substitution. You need not run to the grocery store if you are out of carrots. Just substitute! As a busy, working woman I urge you to take advantage of a recipe that allows you to customize based upon your fridge contents.

The recipe I’m posting tonight includes my favorite veggies for this dish, but you’ll see the pictures are not exact. Why? Because I got home after a 10 hour day and did not care to take an extra trip to the grocery store. Neither should you! If you’re anything like me, I know you are craving a bit of absolute – I think the absolute flavor bombs are onion, red peppers, and celery.  Try to get those in there for a really full flavor. If, like me, you plan your meals ahead of time, shop away so you can cook my favorite rendition.

½ C diced peppers, red and green
½ C carrots, diced
½ C frozen peas
½ C celery, chopped
½ C onion, diced
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
3 C chicken stock
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne
2 cups basmati or jasmine rice (I use exclusively basmati these days. Its just so tasty!)
2 T chives or green onion


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Melt butter in pan on medium heat in an oven safe pot. I prefer using a Dutch oven. As soon as it starts to melt and you have covered the surface, add onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the remaining vegetables and 1 tsp olive oil, and cook for another 5-6 minutes. If you are using carrots, you will need to cover the pot for the last few minutes to begin steaming them, so they are soft to eat.

4. While veggies are cooking, combine chicken stock, salt, and basmati. Bring to boil then reduce to medium-low  heat for 5 minutes.

 before chicken stock  prior to oven

Left above: Mix the veggies with the rice; Right: Many of the veggies will float to the top when you add the chicken stock mixture. That’s just fine – you can mix them back in at the end.

5. After veggies have cooked, pour uncooked rice into pot and stir to combine. Then add chicken stock mixture and stir to combine. You will see most of the vegetables float to the top.

6. Cover pot with heat proof lid or wrap top with tin foil. Your lid is likely heat proof  – it’s the handles you have to look out for. Make sure the handle is metal or check with the manufacturer to determine how much heat your plastic handle can withstand.

7. Place covered pot into oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit with lid on for an additional ten minutes. DO NOT open the lid or tinfoil cover! The oven has generated wonderful steam to finish off your dish!

 in oven  after oven top

Above left: Don’t worry if your dutch oven changes color – its natural; Right: All of the veggies will have risen to the top. You can mix them into the rice again when you fluff with the fork.

8. After 10 minutes, remove lid and fluff rice with a fork.

9. Garnish with chive or green onion for a crisp, fresh addition to this dish.

This makes a terrific side dish for so many entrees. I really enjoy it with BBQ ribs because it soaks up the juices on the plate. Its also great with lighter flavored dishes, such as rosemary or herb de Provence.

How easy was that? You just learned a new recipe and a technique, and no special tools or talent required. Your pantry better kiss that boxed rice goodbye, because its not likely to see a second act in your kitchen! Hungry for more recipes? Explore more at LawyerintheKitchen!

One comment

  1. […] Try it out with my Moroccan Chicken Tagine Recipe or Better than Boxed Rice Pilaf. […]

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