Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Middle Eastern Rice Pilaf with Toasted Orzo

Just a quick post today. I wanted to share my rice pilaf recipe with you because rice is so essential to a lot of Eastern Mediterranean meals. Toasted orzo makes this pilaf special. The orzo lends a light, nutty aroma and taste to the fluffy rice. This recipe makes a big batch. It reheats well.

Here are some of my popular recipes that go nicely with this pilaf:

Juicy Middle Eastern Chicken or Turkey Meatballs in a Light Tomato Sauce:

Mini Sticky Sweet and Spicy Sesame Chicken or Turkey Meatballs:

Persian Chicken or Turkey Meatballs:

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with Warm Spices:

Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Smoked Paprika:

Light Orange Sesame Chicken Stir Fry:

Rice Pilaf with Toasted Orzo Recipe 

You'll Need
  • 1/3 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 cups long grain rice, rinsed very well and drained. I used Carolina brand.
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • olive oil and/or butter for frying the onions and drizzling over the cooked rice
  • sea salt or kosher salt to taste
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for serving (optional) 

The Rundown

Toast the orzo in the same pot you're going to cook the rice in. Just place the orzo in the pot and add a drizzle of olive oil and/or butter and cook on medium heat until it turns a deep golden brown. Remove it from the pot and set aside.

Add the onion to the same pot with a pinch of salt, some butter and/or olive oil. Fry the onions until soft. Add the rinsed and drained rice to the pot that contains the cooked onions, drizzle a little more olive oil and stir to coat the rice in the oil. This should take a minute or so.

Put the orzo back into the pot along with 3 1/2 cups of water and more salt to taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, on the lowest possible setting for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest in the covered pot for an additional 5 minutes. Place the rice pilaf  into a large bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil or some melted butter and fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley. Serve and enjoy.    

Looking for a delicious whole grain, gluten free rice dish? Try my:
Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms, Marsala and Fresh Herbs


  1. I love using orzo in place of rice; this looks like such a wonderful side dish to go with a lot of main courses.

    1. I'm half Lebanese, so we eat a lot of rice pilafs. I hope to share my vegetable pilaf recipes in the future. My mother had a Persian neighbor who always call her pilafs "comfort food."

  2. Thanks for visiting me again, Julia. I just popped on over to your blog today. I must make a few of your delicious recipes! The puff pastry pizza is genius! Readers, have you been to Julia's wonderful blog yet? so many great recipes there!