The best brown rice pilaf recipe with vegetables and herbs. Healthy bell peppers, carrot, celery and onion alongside Italian parsley infuse this easy whole grain rice dish with a divine savory and herbaceous aroma.
Brown Rice Pilaf
A favorite comforting dish from my childhood that makes great use of seasonal vegetables to deliver a filling hearty meal any day of the week. Both the aromatics and rice grains are first sauteed in a little bit of olive oil before being cooked in water or broth. By adding bay leaf, parsley and celery leaves (or dried lovage where available) you are infusing the rice with so much flavor that it’s perfectly fine to use water instead of veggie broth.
About The Rice
Even though I used a quick cook long grain Basmati rice variety ready in 20 minutes, you can use any kind that you have in the pantry. Short grain rice is really pretty and lovely and so is wild rice mix, just make sure to follow the cooking times indicated on the package.
Some whole grain rice will take 35 to 45 minutes to absorb all the cooking liquid and soften. Regardless of which variety you are using, allow the rice to sit covered and continue to cook in its own steam for another 10 minutes or so after removing it from heat.
Recipe Tips + FAQs
- What is the difference between rice and rice pilaf? Traditional rice is simply steamed or boiled in water or broth, while the pilaf cooking method requires toasting the rice grains in a little bit of olive oil with the aromatics before adding the cooking liquid. Just like making a risotto but without any need to stir during the process.
- Do you wash the rice before making pilaf? Washing the rice is definitely recommend In order to obtain a fluffy pilaf with separate grains. From a health perspective it’s very important to rinse it in a few changes of water to remove as much of the arsenic as possible. Even organic rice has high levels or arsenic nowadays so it’s best to rinse it before cooking every single time.
- Add ins – Roasted carrots and broccoli, slivered almonds, toasted pine nuts, grilled zucchini, green peans, asparagus and chickpeas. Cooked lentils, quinoa, orzo and even dried fruit like cranberries or raisins can be mixed into the final dish for a heartier more nutritious meal.
- Mushroom Variation – For an earthy and savory pilaf the bell pepper in the recipe can be replaced with 2 cups of chopped button mushrooms. If going this route it’s also nice to mix in about one or two teaspoons of porcini mushroom powder with your veggie stock if available.
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- Baked Sweet Potato Rounds.
Brown Rice Pilaf
- 2 cups brown rice quick cook Basmati
- 1 small yellow onion diced (or a small leek)
- 2 celery ribs chopped
- 1 carrot diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 red bell pepper diced (or 1.5 cups chopped mushrooms)
- 3.5 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp sea salt + more to taste
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp dried lovage (dried celery leaves or 1/4 cup fresh celery leaves)
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast optional
- 1 pinch red chili flakes for heat
- Place the brown rice in a mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water. Drain well and set aside.
- Preheat a heavy bottom skillet over medium low heat with a good drizzle of olive oil (about one tablespoon or so). Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sautee until translucent. Add the diced carrot and celery and cook until they begin to soften.1 small yellow onion, 2 celery ribs, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 carrot
- Add the brown rice to the skillet with the vegetables and stir well making sure to coat it all over the oil. Toast for a few minutes then stir in the red bell pepper, nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt and chili flakes.2 cups brown rice, 1 red bell pepper, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 pinch red chili flakes for heat
- Pour in the vegetable stock or water and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaves, half of the parsley and lovage or celery leaves. Cover with a lid and cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes. (Remember to adjust timing depending on which type of rice you are using, check the package instructions to make sure).2 bay leaves, 3.5 cups vegetable stock or water, 1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, 1 Tbsp dried lovage
- Remove the rice pilaf from heat but allow it to sit covered for 10 minutes and continue cooking in its own steam.
- Discard the bay leaf and use a fork to fluff up the rice pilaf. Mix in the remaining fresh parsley, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and enjoy with the red chili flakes for some heat!1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley
- Do you wash the rice before making pilaf? Washing the rice is definitely recommend In order to obtain a fluffy pilaf with separate rice grains. From a health perspective it's very important to rinse the rice in a few changes of water to remove as much of the arsenic as possible. Even organic rice has high levels or arsenic nowadays so it's best to rinse it before cooking every time.
- Add ins - Roasted carrots and broccoli, slivered almonds, toasted pine nuts, grilled zucchini, green peans, asparagus and chickpeas. Cooked lentils, quinoa, orzo and even dried fruit like cranberries or raisins can be mixed into the final dish for a heartier more nutritious meal.
- Mushroom Variation - For an earthy and savory pilaf the bell pepper in the recipe can be replaced with 2 cups of chopped button mushrooms. If going this route it's also nice to mix in about one or two teaspoons of porcini mushroom powder with your veggie stock if available.
- What is Lovage? - Otherwise known as European celery with a very fragrant herbaceous aroma. It's usually added to soups, stews and pilaf style dishes and can be replaced with regular dried celery leaves.
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