Italian Rice Pilaf

Tuesday 1 December 2020

When I was younger, ie. a child, I used to love Rice-a-Roni.  It was the San Francisco treat!  I loved the commercials on the television with the San Francisco Trolley and its bell.

It was not something we had very often actually. I probably served it more when my own children were growing up. It came in a variety of flavours.

Italian Rice Pilaf

 Basically it was a rice dish combined with pasta. You browned the rice and pasta in a skillet and then added water and a seasoning packet. I am sure it was pretty high in salt and artificial flavours and ingredients.

These days I prefer to make it from scratch.  Its not very hard to make from scratch when it comes right down to it. Is quick, easy and delicious.

Italian Rice Pilaf

These days I prefer to call it a Pilaf . A Pilaf is a rice dish that originated in the middle east. It usually involves browning or toasting some rice (and in this case vermicelli) and then adding seasonings, vegetables and stock.

You can also add bits of meat or fish.  This version is meant to be a side dish and I have added Italian flavours.

Italian Rice Pilaf

Normally I would use vermicelli, which is a very thin pasta.  I did not have any of that today. Today I used broken up spaghettini. It worked well.

You can also use orzo.  Orzo is a rice shaped pasta.  All work in this. You are going to toast it in some butter. This adds flavour, colour and interest.

Italian Rice Pilaf

You brown the pasta in some butter and then toss in the rice.  I used Jasmine rice.

I love Jasmine rice. You sometimes will see it called popcorn rice. It is a long grain rice and is perfect for things like pilaf. It has a delicate floral and buttery scent.

Italian Rice Pilaf

Once you have coated the rice in the butter you then add water and a mix of herbs and seasonings. Today I added Italian flavours.

Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary,  parsley, etc. You can use fresh if you like.  Just double the amounts. I had no fresh today so I used dried.

Italian Rice Pilaf

In the olden days fresh herbs were a real rarity. My mother never used fresh herbs. not ever.  Except perhaps fresh chives of parsley.  And even that was once in a blue  moon.

Parsley was meant as a garnish.  My father grew a pot of chives. He liked them in his bologna sandwiches.

Italian Rice Pilaf

My mother didn't use a lot of herbs at all. My father didn't (and doesn't) like wildly flavoured food. He likes things simple. My mom used salt and pepper.

When I was a teenager she discovered oregano. Before we knew it she was sneaking dried oregano into everything!

Italian Rice Pilaf

When I say everything, I mean literally everything. Nothing was safe from her bottle of Oregano. it ended up in our soups, stews, BBQ sauce, Chili, everything.

Bless her heart. She was actually living life on the edge with this discovery. For her anyways.  My father accepted the oregano and peace reigned.  He is always reminding me however, that he likes simple things.

Italian Rice Pilaf

I am not sure if he will like this or not.  We shall see. I hope that he will.  I happen to love it.

It goes together really quickly and has fabulous flavours.  Flavours that go together with just about anything.

Italian Rice Pilaf

 I especially love it with grilled salmon.  Salmon is one of those fishes that demands strong flavours to accompany it.

Salmon can be quite a strongly flavoured fish . You want something on the side that will stand up to it, but not overcome it. You want it to complement it.

Italian Rice Pilaf

If you wanted to you could turn this into a main dish by adding some cooked meat or fish to it. It would be kind of like a fried rice then I suppose.  With Italian flavours.

I was trying to describe how to make this to my daughter earlier. She thought it sounded really delicious.

Italian Rice Pilaf

 My oldest daughter is developmentally challenged. I always try to write my recipes so that anyone can cook them. I try to explain them in simple terms.

I try to write them so that she can make them. Generally speaking that is my criteria. If I think she can cook them.  That way I know most people can have success with them.

Italian Rice Pilaf

I really get perturbed when someone tries one of my recipes and they say it didn't work for them.  They will say, I cut down this, and I added that and I left out whatnot, but it didn't work! 

Like its the recipe's fault.  Cooking is very subjective and very much a matter of taste.  What I present here have always been tested and tried.  I have had success with them, as written.

Anything else is a matter of taste.  And we all like different things.  In any case, I hope you will make it and enjoy it.  

It makes a great midweek side dish and the leftovers reheat very well.

Italian Rice Pilaf

Italian Rice Pilaf

Yield: 6
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 10 Mincook time: 16 Mininactive time: 5 Mintotal time: 31 Min
This buttery rice dish is nicely flavoured and easy to make. It goes very well with most things!


  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 cup (100g) short cut vermicelli
  • 1 cup (165g) jasmine rice
  • 4 cups (960ml) water
  • 2 TBS chicken boullion powder
  • pinch crushed red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Once it begins to foam add the vermicelli.  Cook, stirring until it turns golden brown. Add the rice, stirring it to coat. Add the water, chicken stock, and all of the herbs.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer and cover.
  2. Cook for 15 to 16 minutes until the rice is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat.  Taste and adjust seasoning with some salt and pepper if need be.  Let rest for five minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve.
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Italian Rice Pilaf

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  1. Ha ha...I still love Rice-a-Roni LOL... I am definitely going to try this...and would be interested in hearing how you change up the herbs for different flavors. And bless your mum...I am an oregano addict too...but not to the point of adding it to everything LOL. ~Robin~

    1. Just think of what you want and then use those flavours. For a chinese one, you can use five spice, ginger and garlic. For Mexican add chili, oregano, lime and coriander. Those are just a few suggestions! xoxo

  2. I loved Rice-a-Roni too. I made it often when we were first married. I wonder if it's still available. I'll be making your recipe for sure. We woke up to snow! Lots of snow! Everyhing is covered and so is our porch so it must have been windy last night. The newspaper was buried. Almost 7:00 am, time for brekkie. Enjoy your day. Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. How beautiful! No snow here yet, but plenty of rain! Love and hugs. xoxo

  3. A Very Yummy Wonderful Recipe !!! WOW Nice Photos to See. I'll Definitely Try it. Thank You For Sharing.

  4. Marie, I have not found one of your recipes that did bot work or did not taste as you described. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much Susan! That is so kind of you to say! xoxo

  5. We had something similar to your Rice-a-Roni in Australia. It was called Rice-a-Riso. Mum rarely bought it as she preferred food from scratch, which only made us kids want it even more - we thought it exotic and sophisticated and we felt very hard done by when mum always said no :)

    This dish sounds really nice and also versatile as you can flavour it to accompany a wide variety of different cuisines. I have some salmon that I was going to grill on Friday and serve with potatoes, but I might give this a go for a change as I have everything at home.

    I agree with Susan - I've never, ever had a fail with any of your recipes and I've made quite a few of them over the years. I might tweak them a bit (as I'm a bit like you in that regard or maybe I need to substitute an ingredient unavailable here) but they always come out just as you described. Many of them have become family favourites as well.

    We have had light snow over the weekend - just enough to tease us. I hope there will be more before long as it brightens up the surroundings and reflects the very little light we get at the moment. Sending you snowy vibes....

    1. I love you tweaking the recipes and sharing your results with us Marie! That is what I love most about cooking and about simple recipes like this one. They afford us the opportunity to tweak and really make something our own! I am dreaming of a white Christmas! Today we are having torrential rain however! I hope your snowy vibes work! xoxo

  6. I still like rice-a-roni. The reduced sodium one is actually really tasty (the other types are a salt lick)

    1. I have not had it in forever, but I did used to really enjoy it! I can well believe about the salt! xoxo


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