Homemade Rice Pilaf (healthy rice-a-roni)
This simple rice pilaf with brown rice and angel hair pasta is a healthy, homemade version of Rice-A-Roni that makes the perfect side dish.
Rice Pilaf (Healthy Rice-A-Roni)
I love rice pilaf and often make my own healthy, homemade Rice-A-Roni so I can control what goes into it. That’s what I love about this easy rice pilaf! It’s made with pantry staples and has far fewer ingredients than the boxed kind. Rice pilaf is an easy side dish that goes with most meals. Serve it alongside Basil-Parmesan Crusted Salmon, Chicken Milanese, Turkey Meatloaf or Roast Beef.
Pilaf is also very customizable. You can add in different seasonings to make Italian, Mexican, or Indian versions. You can make vegetable rice pilafs by throwing in your favorite veggies or add in your favorite protein to make this a one-dish meal. The options are endless!
What is the difference between rice and rice pilaf?
Rice pilaf is not only a dish but also a cooking technique. The main difference between rice and rice pilaf is that the rice in pilaf is first sautéed before adding liquid. Sautéing rice gives it a nuttier, toasted flavor and a coating that makes cooked rice less sticky.
How to Make a Healthier Rice-A-Roni
Simple tweaks make this homemade Rice-A-Roni a bit healthier than the boxed kind. Using whole grain pasta and brown rice provide more nutritional benefit than white rice and regular pasta. Canned chicken broth is a cleaner ingredient than the flavor packets that typically come in the box.
Although I typically don’t cook with parboiled rice, I don’t mind it at all when it comes to brown rice, especially since brown rice can take a while to cook in the skillet. I’ve tried all the brands sold in the supermarket and found the yield and amount of liquid are not the same. To ensure you are getting the same results, I suggest using Uncle Ben’s Instant Brown Rice that cooks in ten minutes. If you want to use regular brown rice, you may have to adjust the amount of liquid and time according to the package directions.
If you want to add some veggies, you can add some minced carrots, chopped broccoli, peas, or cauliflower rice to the mix once you add the broth. You can also add garlic, onion, chicken, etc. Have fun with it and let me know what variations you come up with!
- For a gluten-free rice pilaf, use gluten-free pasta.
- To make it dairy-free, swap the butter for olive oil.
- Add your favorite veggies! Add minced carrots, chopped broccoli, peas, or cauliflower rice to the mix once you pour in the broth.
- Add some protein to make it a one-pot meal – for example, chicken, ham, shrimp, or sausage.
More Rice Recipes You’ll Love:
Homemade Rice Pilaf (Healthy Rice-a-Roni)
- 2 teaspoons butter, (use olive oil for dairy free)
- 1/4 cup 3/4 ounce angel hair spaghetti broken into small pieces*, wheat, whole wheat or gluten-free
- 1 cup uncooked 10 minute instant brown rice, such as Uncle Ben’s
- 2 cups chicken broth, (or water and chicken bouillon)
- optional, chopped parsley for garnish
- Melt the butter in a deep skillet with a fitted lid over medium heat.
- When the butter is melted, add the broken spaghetti and rice. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly toasted.
- Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the rice is tender and the broth is absorbed.
- Remove from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.