Italian Rice Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

Italian rice made pilaf-style using long grain brown rice cooked together with tomato paste, capers, bell pepper and fragrant fennel in a delicious savory broth. Brighten up with a bunch of fresh basil or parsley for a delicious weeknight meal.

Italian Rice

Italian Rice

This flavorful Italian style tomato rice dish is a take on the classic Spanish red rice. It makes use of classic pantry ingredients like tomato paste, salty capers and fragrant fennel seeds. You can expand on the concept by adding different veggies and spices, a sprinkle of crispy onions or a  drizzle of sun dried tomato or basil pesto.

Italian Tomato Rice

About The Rice

A healthy long grain brown rice is my favorite to use in this dish, but you can work with any rice you have on hand. Basmati, short grain, red rice, even a risotto style rice like Arborio or Carnaroli. Just be sure to adjust the cooking times according to the package directions.

The Seasoning

The depth of flavor in this dish comes from creating rich layers of flavor. You start with sauteeing an onion a little bit longer than usual, take your time and let it get some color and develop its natural sweetness. Then build on with bell peppers and fragrant fennel seeds, salty capers and pungent garlic, just a dash of smoked paprika and onion powder and a generous amount of thick and rich tomato paste.

Italian Rice

Recipe Tips + FAQ

  • Should I wash the rice? Absolutely yes! Rinse the rice well in a mesh colander and allow to drain before adding it to the dish. This will ensure that your pilaf will turn out light and fluffy with separated grains (not sticky) and maybe a little bit of a crisp bottom. The other benefit to washing the rice is getting rid of as much of the arsenic as possible, yes even organic grains!
  • Rice to Water Ratio – Since we are rinsing the rice first I find that the perfect water ratio is 1.75 cups for every 1 cup of rice.
  • The Tomato Paste – Choose an organic double concentrated tomato paste if available. Use at least 5 to 6 tablespoons and If you prefer a deeper tomato flavor squeeze in the entire tube (I used Pomi 4.5 oz tube).
  • Leftovers – Reheat and enjoy with a salad, make fried rice and pile on the veggies. Or turn them into Arancini or rice balls to dip in our homemade arrabiata or marinara sauce.
  • Add Ins – Mushrooms, green peas, zucchini, fennel, leeks, plant-based sausage, sun dried tomatoes, roasted veggies etc..
  • Toppings – Thinly sliced basil, caramelized onions, toasted pine nuts, pickled red onions or pepperoncini, a drizzle of basil walnut pestofresh tomato salsa.

Tomato Rice

Serving Suggestions

how to make Italian rice Italian Rice

Italian Rice
5 from 1 vote

Italian Rice

Italian rice made pilaf-style using long grain brown rice cooked together with tomato paste, capers, bell pepper and fragrant fennel in a delicious savory broth. Brighten up with a bunch of fresh basil or parsley for a delicious weeknight meal.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 55 minutes
Total Time:2 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Start by rinsing the rice well in a mesh strainer and set aside to drain.
    2 cups long grain brown rice
  • Preheat a high sided skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and saute until softened and starts to get some color around the edges (a good 10 minutes or so).
    1 onion
  • Stir in the fennel seeds and cook until fragrant then add the bell pepper. Stir and saute a few more minutes until the pepper just starts to soften.
    1 Tbsp fennel seeds, 1 red bell pepper
  • Add the garlic, toss to coat and cook just until you can smell it then stir in the capers, paprika and onion powder. Add the tomato paste (+ chili paste if using) and combine everything well.
    5 cloves garlic, 2-3 Tbsp capers, 6-8 Tbsp tomato paste, 1/2 Tbsp onion powder, 1/2 Tbsp sweet smoked paprika, 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • Mix in the rinsed rice and toss to coat well with all the seasonings. Pour in the water, add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Season with a teaspoon of sea salt, combine well and give it a taste (adjust seasoning). Cover with a tight lid and turn the heat down to medium low.
    2 cups long grain brown rice, 3.5 cups + 2 Tbsp water, 1 bay leaf, sea salt + black pepper to taste
  • Let the rice simmer away for 40 minutes then turn off the heat. (Adjust cooking time here if using a different type of rice or the package suggests different cooking times). Allow to sit covered for an addition 10 to 15 minutes once removed from heat to continue cooking in its own steam.
  • Fluff with a fork, discard bay leaf and mix in the fresh parsley or basil whichever herb you prefer using. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon for extra zing!
    1/3 cup Italian Parsley or Basil

Notes

  • Should I wash the rice? Absolutely yes! Rinse the rice well in a mesh colander and allow to drain before adding it to the dish. This will ensure that your pilaf will turn out light and fluffy with separated grains (not sticky) and maybe a little bit of a crisp bottom. The other benefit to washing the rice is getting rid of as much of the arsenic as possible, yes even organic grains!
  • Rice to Water Ratio - Since we are rinsing the rice first I find that the perfect water ratio is 1.75 cups for every 1 cup of rice.
  • The Tomato Paste - Choose an organic double concentrated tomato paste if available. Use at least 5 to 6 tablespoons and If you prefer a deeper tomato flavor squeeze in the entire tube (I used Pomi 4.5 oz tube).
  • Leftovers - Reheat and enjoy, make fried rice and pile on the veggies or turn them into Arancini or rice balls to dip in our homemade arrabiata or marinara sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 215mg | Potassium: 420mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1234IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Italian rice, red rice, tomato rice
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 267kcal

You’ll Also Love:

pasta e ceci
Pasta e Ceci
bruschetta pasta
Bruschetta Pasta
Pasta Aglio e Olio
Pasta Aglio e Olio

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    My entire family devoured this delicious rice and even helped themselves to leftovers. So much flavor and so easy, will definitely be making this more often Florentina