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Oven Baked Rice Pilaf

A set-it-and-forget-it side you’ll keep coming back to.

Rice Pilaf was not a part of my childhood but it was a part of my husband’s. My mother-in-law makes a delicious yet simple pilaf from rice and whole wheat spaghetti and has been for years and now it’s something I’ve come to expect (and look forward to) when they’re making us dinner. It’s a simple side that always satisfies and I know we’re all looking for more of those! This one takes cues from hers, but relies on orzo instead, uses a few other substitutions for extra flavor, and comes together with a super easy oven method.

You only need six ingredients for this, so it’s a side that’s great to throw together from pantry ingredients when you haven’t done much planning. You need: a long-grain white rice, orzo, an onion, garlic, chicken or vegetable broth, and some butter.

While my MIL starts with olive oil, I often like to think “What would Julia Child do?” So I’m starting with butter. You soften the onion and garlic in the butter…

… and then once those are soft, you’ll increase the heat and stir in the orzo and give it a good toast. Now, she uses broken up whole wheat spaghetti and that works wonderfully, but I like that orzo is a similar size to the rice. Toasting it adds a nice nutty flavor and the rice gets a turn in the pan too, for a just about a minute.

From there, the oven really does the rest of the work. Stir in a cup of broth, cover the dish, and bake it for twenty-five minutes.

After that time is up, add the remaining broth and bake it some more. This creates a nicer texture than adding all the liquid at one time…

So you get lovely fluffy rice with chewier orzo and plenty of nuttiness running throughout. Yum!

Serves 6

10m prep time

1h 10m cook time

Rated 5 out of 5
Rated by 1 reviewers
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.
  3. Add onions and cook until starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in orzo. Toast until orzo is deeply golden, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in rice and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a 1.5 quart baking dish with a lid.
  6. Pour 1 cup of the broth over rice and orzo, season with salt and pepper, and stir. Cover dish and bake 25 minutes.
  7. Uncover, add remaining broth, cover and bake until rice is tender, about 35 minutes more.
  8. Fluff with fork, adjust seasoning as needed and serve. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Simply Scratch.

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